Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dr. Manmohan Singh - Still admirable?

Dr. Singh is often regarded as an honest, one with high personal integrity, highly respected & admired. These were the qualities that won him the Prime Minister’s post four years ago. Now that we have seen four years of his governance, it is time we re-look at his tenure & evaluate how he measures against the high praise as against taking them on face value.

Back in the earlier 90’s, when the V.P. Singh government announced a loan waiver of Rs. 10,000 crore, our hon. Prime Minister, Dr. Singh, who was the finance minister then in the subsequent government, criticized the waiver calling it a burden on the exchequer. When the same was done a few weeks ago (and this time an estimated Rs. 60,000 crore) he hailed it as being historic. No word on the impact of this on the exchequer or on fiscal irresponsibility. Arun Shourie analyzed the latest union budget in his excellent four part series. In the process exposing some plain lies being told by our hon. Finance Minister with a Harvard degree.

The UPA assumed office proclaiming to carry out economic reforms with a “human face”. And that it cared for the “aam aadmi”. Dr. Singh made many speeches to this effect after taking oath. Well it is common knowledge now that the common man continues to be “aam” & that little has improved in his life since UPA assumed office. That was four years ago. This is in continuation of the Congress’s grand tradition of raising the poverty issue for political gains & doing little about it. Indira Gandhi was the pioneer, remember “Garibi Hatao”?

The anti-terrorism record of the UPA government has been appalling to say the least. Terrorists have continued to attack with impunity, our countrymen continue to die & cross border terrorism continues. The POTA was dropped giving it a communal color. Here’s a nice post by offstumped summarizing UPA’s anti-terrorism record. Apparently the Prime Minister was only concerned that it would harm the minorities (loss of sleep?). But no such concerns when terrorism continues to claim innocent lives in our country.

Even the wild life isn’t immune to our Prime Minister’s incompetence. The national animal, the majestic Tiger, is closer to extension. This was the result of Dr. Singh’s promised personal help to Tiger conservation. That prompted Dr. Singh to advise Chief Ministers on what they should be doing to save Tigers, but little action on his part.

Dr. Singh’s office recently issued a statement asking political parties to refrain from politicizing the price rise issue. Well, he seems to forget that the UPA came to power by politicizing similar issues in 2004. Besides his office has been involved in many questionable activities as recent events suggest. The responsibility should also lie with the office bearer.

Similarly, in the recent past, Dr. Singh asked the babus to be fair, honest & efficient, but did not lay out plan to achieve the desired result. All one ever hears is Dr. Singh sermonizing on terrorism, economic policies, minority issues, foreign relations, education etc. But there is hardly any action that follows those sermons. As if by just uttering his desire, the desired will be achieved. He seems to forget that it is the Prime Minister’s job to deliver & not just sermonize. In fact, this has been his hallmark in the four years as the Prime Minister – Lip Service.

The tentative & reluctant nature of his leadership & lack of conviction was on full display during his Indo-US nuclear deal initiative. This was the only issue on which he showed some interest & passion, but he has failed miserable here too.

And recently, sycophants in Congress have been demanding that Rahul Gandhi should be the party’s next Prime Ministerial candidate. What does that say about Dr. Singh? All along he has been living under the shadow & command of his party president, Sonia Gandhi. Any self respecting man would be unwilling to work in such an arrangement or allow himself to be sidelined time & again. Also, by turning a blind eye to what happens in his party, the various scandals, scams, sycophancy etc. Dr. Singh is damaging his own credibility & image. There’s more than can be discussed.

Taking a moral high ground after all this isn’t convincing at all. The Common Minimum Program is nothing but a plan to cling to power. And four years of following the plan have yeilded all the problems & controversies that we see today. By letting all that happened since the UPA came to power, Dr. Singh is equally guilty. After all he is the Prime Minister of our country & responsible for the government. It is time we re-evaluated Dr. Manmohan Singh again before we blindly continue to admire him.

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