Accidental Prime Minister

Sanjaya Baru’s book The Accidental Prime Minister is in news. Congress members have denounced it. BJP members have welcomed it. Journalists have differing opinions, depending on their equations with Sanjaya Baru. Sanjaya Baru appeared on some TV channels and defended his book. Karan Thapar interviewed him on Headlines Today. Till some days back Karan Thapar was on CNN-IBN with his programmes The Last Word and Devil’s Advocate. Sanjaya Baru claimed his book is mostly favourable to Manmohan Singh. Hostile reaction by Congress members gave the book more publicity. Prabhu Chawla said he had used the expression accidental prime minister on the cover of India Today some years back and Sanjaya Baru had protested as others are protesting against Sanjaya Baru’s book now.
Sonia Gandhi being super prime minister and NAC being super cabinet is not news. Sonia Gandhi as chairperson of NAC had cabinet minister rank and was entitled to access to files.
When there were floods or other calamities Sonia Gandhi went to the places accompanied by cabinet ministers. Representatives of foreign countries met her.
Sanjaya Baru said Manmohan Singh was accidental prime minister in 2004. In 2009 Congress fought elections under his leadership and he was prime minister in his own right and was not accidental prime minister. In 2004 Congress got 145 seats. In 2009 Congress got 206 seats. The extra 61 seats were due to Manmohan Singh. He did not get the credit. It went to Rahul Gandhi. When something good happened the credit went to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. When something bad happened the blame went to Manmohan Singh.
When Manmohan Singh became prime minister many expected him to carry on economic reforms which he did when he was finance minister. That did not happen. Many blamed Left Front for that. When Congress won in 2009 many were happy. However their hopes were dashed. Some knew Left Front was an excuse; many in Congress did not want reforms. Manmohan Singh lost credit for reforms in 1991-1996 and people said P. V. Narasimha Rao was responsible for reforms. In fact the reforms came about because of IMF conditions. India had taken loan from IMF and it had to agree to the conditions which led the reforms. There was one cartoon. Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh were carrying sacks on their backs. Their arms were twisted. Narasimha Rao says to Manmohan Singh if anyone asks who twisted our arms we will say nobody twisted our arms, we twisted them ourselves.
Manmohan Singh’s second term as prime minister was marred with controversies over Commonwealth Games, 2G, coal block allocation and so on. His reputation suffered. When Pawan Kumar Bansal had to quit following his nephew’s involvement in bribes for railway appointments, some asked how much Manmohan Singh was getting. Congress core group and cabinet had decided on an ordinance to save convicted MPs from disqualification. It was mainly for Laloo Prasad Yadav. There was criticism in the media. President did not sign it. Many Congress ministers had defended it. Shashi Tharoor and Milind Deora spoke against it. That was a sign that they had the backing of Rahul Gandhi. Manmohan Singh was in USA. Rahul Gandhi appeared in a press conference and said that ordinance should be torn up and thrown out. It was public humiliation for Manmohan Singh. Rahul Gandhi projected himself as crusader against corruption and criminals and Manmohan Singh appeared to be defender of corruption and criminals.
Manmohan Singh has himself to blame. He did not assert when he should have. He should have reprimanded or sacked ministers who defied him. Otherwise he should have quit. He continued as prime minister. He gave the impression that he was ready to swallow insults to continue as prime minister. He cuts a sorry figure.

Updated: April 15, 2014 — 7:42 am


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  1. Superb post! Thanks for this! Ur conclusion is bang on…

  2. HindustaniSakhi Saheli

    good article to read :-)

  3. I guess Dr Singh doesn’t care two hoots for all this. He is a scholar and not a politician. He took intellectual decisions and left politics to politicians. What’s wrong in that?

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