The latest issue of the Time magazine carries a story which calls the Indian Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh an “underachiever”. There is nothing new in it. Rather it is stale news, if one cares for My Book published on this site long back. Man Mohan Singh was not “appointed” to “achieve” anything. Hence, there is no question of his being an underachiever . He was simply to adorn the office of the Prime Minister and that service he has rendered to the satisfaction of the power that appointed him. He could manage to get another term only on the strength of that “achievement”, which has confounded many, disturbed several and chagrined the remaining. He was the hope of foreign powers that wanted to feast on the Indian prosperity to convert India into a “Bharat Ek Bhoj” (India A Banquet) . It was these foreign powers that had expected him to achieve so called reforms to make India a comfortable market for them to rake windfall profits, who have been disappointed with his performance. For them he is indeed an underachiever! India is no banana republic and it is because of the strength of the awareness of the people that these unnecessary reform have not been allowed to eat into the economy so far. It is the nature of the Superpower hubris that they change regime no more useful to them as easily as they set them up. Man Mohan Singh has outlived his utility for them and can be replaced without any resistance from them.
However, replacing Man Mohan Singh is no easy game. The Congress thought that a non political, mild mannered, academician by profession and honest man would be easy to manipulate. They miscalculated the stature of a complex personality like Man Mohan Singh. He is no simpleton. He has simulated well to be as simple as they thought. It needs great skills and learning. The best politician is the one who can maintain a poker face, remain silent on almost every issue and sweet talk his opponents. On that scale Man Mohan Singh has outshone all the motormouths that have heaped ignominy and disreupte on the GOP of India. While the Congress has been pursuing their own agenda, Man Mohan Singh has yet to reveal his personal agenda. The kind of verbal attacks on him from time to time in the past several months, beginning the elections in Uttar Pradesh(UP), reveal the difficulties the Congress has been facing in replacing him. It is known in informed circles that Man Mohan Singh has refused to vacate the seat. He was wiser instead by inviting Rahul Gandhi to join his cabinet. The Congress never bargained for it. It would have liked to make Rahul Gandhi the Prime Minister and offer a berth in the cabinet to Man Mohan Singh. This is neither acceptable to Man Mohan Singh nor to his camp. The latest scud missile fired by the Law Minister Khurshid today is the most direct hint to Man Mohan Singh to quit gracefully and facilitate the anointment of Rahul Gandhi as India’s Prime Minister to give “direction” to the government and the nation and ensure the victory of the Congress in the 2014 elections to the parliament.
The war of words was started by the Man Mohan Singh camp, immediately after the departure of Pranab Mukherjee from the Finance Ministry and Man Mohan Singh assuming charge of the Finance Ministry. A media campaign was started immediately after this development blaming Pranab Mukherjee for stalling reform and decline in the rupee in the foreign exchange market and the sense of gloom in the business & industry circles. Pranab is seen to be close to the Congress President Sonia Gandhi and his criticism is likely to be interpreted as criticism of Sonia Gandhi. The Congress Establishment never encourages such tresspass and meet out severe punishment to the offenders. But there was another irritating signal emanating from the Man Mohan Singh camp. It was his attempt to enhance his personal image and achievements by being the champion of reforms and bringing cheers to the gloomy business & industry. If the Indian media can be used for tarnishing the image of Pranab Mukherjee, the foreign press can be used to pay Man Mohan Singh and his followers in the same coin. The Time magazine article is that missile. Otherwise, Man Mohan Singh is neither the initiator of reforms in India (it was Rajiv Gandhi as I have written in My Book on this site) nor the champion to introduce the kind of reforms that help strengthen the Indian economy. All that he has done or allowed to happen is weakening the carefully laid down and nurtured economy of the country. Today these set of economists are claiming credit for selling public sector undertakings, but from where have these undertakings come? Their economic wisdom has introduced absurd levies like “service tax”, plunging the economy in thorough doldrums. All public service institutions stand compromised to promote “market forces”. No amount of criticism of Pranab Mukherjee will help Man Mohan Singh or his camp to score any brownie points. The people have suffered so much that they will not forgive this government in the next election for its errors & omissions.
Man Mohan Singh will wait till the end before he discloses his true agenda. The circumstances seem to be favouring him. In spite of all goading from the Congress courtiers, Rahul Gandhi has not shown courage to pick up the gauntlet. In fact, he is visibly diffident. And he may not be wrong. Indian politics is no sweet cake or Gajar Ka Halwa. Rahul has gained first hand experience only recently in the U.P. elections. After that kind of an experience, no young man of his age would ever like to drink the hemlock of politics. While Rahul’s enthronement is a sine qua non for thousands of the limpets surviving on the crumbs from the Nehru-Gandhi family, it will be only an act of offering oneself as a sacrificial lamb for poor Rahul Gandhi. When Rahul is not yet prepared to jump into the rough & tumble of politics, Congress politics or coalition politics, or when he is not yet mature enough to take over the reins of government, it will be an act of gravest unkindness to throw him into the fire of power politics at this stage. Those pursuing their own prospects in his name have to remember that they stand to lose everything if something untoward happens to Rahul Gandhi. In India it is a common belief that power or wealth hardly ever stays with a family beyond the seventh generation. If they sacrifice Rahul, who is a bachelor yet, whom will they seek to enthrone to “save the country” (which is mere euphemism for their own survival)?
In addition to the unwillingness of Rahul Gandhi, there is another very significant factor that needs to be taken into account. The Congress Party is no better than any other party. All parties are suffering from indiscipline. There are many discordant voices heard from time to time from the Congress establishment and organisation. It is sought to be silenced in the name of the Congress President, aka Sonia Gandhi. But she is not in the best of her health. The Man Mohan Singh camp knows the true story. How long she will be there to provide “leadership” to the Congress Party is only a matter of speculation. The Man Mohan Singh camp will disclose its cards at the right moment, after watching her health and consequential developments. The Prime Minister will put up his best show as a politician if Sonia is removed from the scene for some time during the run up to the elections due to her health or anything else. If that does not happen, the elections might still see some less than peaceful developments, which might favour Man Mohan Singh. If he comes to don the Congress cap of a political leader, he will be a different person from what has been painted by the Indian media or the Time magazine.
There will be one difficulty even then. India being such a diverse country, it has been salvaged in the past by the intervention of providence. That kind of intervention will be found in the form of President Pranab Mukherjee, who will never swallow the insult of having lost the Prime Ministership to his junior Man Mohan Singh. It will be time for sweet revenge for Pranab Mukherjee. More than personal issues, Pranab is a seasoned politician, who knows the aspirations of the aam aadmi or the common man many times more than these advoctes of free market led by Man Mohan Singh. Circumstances have put him above Man Mohan Singh for some constructive work: to save the aam aadmi from the assault of these free market forces, secure the nation from advancing neo-colonialism and restore dignity to the institutions of the government.
The Time magazine would do better to revisit its story and update itself. Man Mohan Singh is no “underachiever”. Because of him Indian politics has become a free market for buying & selling support to a government operating without genuine majority and mandate; governance has remained paralyzed for almost 8 years now; extra-constitutional centres of power have been running the government without any accountability; history has been created in the levels of corruption in the country; social dissensions have reached ugly limits; terrorists have become daring by the day; a mood of gloom prevails in the country generally and people have become unhappy. If these can be called achievements, Man Mohan Singh has these achievements to his credit. Were he not silently pursuing his own personal agenda, he would never have staked his personal integrity and honour for continuing such a frustrating semblance of a government for so long.