Manmohan Singh may be one of the rare leaders, even if only a figure head, who ruled his country for a record number of years, but could not leave behind any legacy worth talking about. Unless, you consider his great record destroying the Indian economy through sheer inaction, closing his eyes and ears when others were chipping away at its foundations.
His Press Conference on 3rd January 2014 was presumably his swan song. His customary show of loyalty to the ruling clan notwithstanding, the press conference was his last attempt to put on record his service to the country and Gandhi clan. He knew that nobody in Congress is interested in air brushing his image, or ‘appreciating’ his great work for the party.
He is already out of their collective mind space. He knows that he would go unsung, whatever be the fate of Congress party. He may be one of the longest serving Prime Minister but his name would not appear in history books for any achievements. Hence, his urge to put his so called achievements in front of the people himself.
There was nothing new in his press conference. It was a poor PR exercise. The press was also sympathetic to the poor soul. Nobody raised any tough questions; nobody grilled him with counter questions. They could politely be called ‘leading’ questions, which the media raised obligingly.
Touting his personal honesty and integrity is a tragedy, like that of great Guru Dronacharya and loyal protector of Hastinapur, venerable Bhishma who sided with adharma of Kauravas and faced tragic death. Though I was tempted to compare him with Dhritrashtra, as he claims to have protested rape of natural resources such as 2G spectrum and Coal but kept silent and stuck to his post.
But, let us take his submission of personal integrity at its face value. Personal honesty is of no use in public life, if it cannot control people under that person’s guidance.
Since, everybody has dissected all his questions and answers, I would like to leave that aside presently. But, as a head of the government that has CBI and all the investigating agencies under its thumb; does it behoove a Prime Minister to disown a SIT organized as per Supreme Court directive and judgment of a court; and call an exonerated Chief Minister virtually a mass murderer?
It showed that behind the soft silent bureaucrat façade lay a mind that has learnt the lesson from his masters well in fascist propaganda. A mindset that can suffer judiciary and law only as long as it gets a favourable judgment. For this mindset, law must listen to kangaroo courts and ruling class that have already passed judgments. Any other opinion is not worth the paper it is written on.
I am not bringing up hundreds of riots or even 1984, which would would drag the debate in familiar terrain of pointing fingers by opponents. To my mind, even if only 2002 riots are judged, ultimately one must respect judgment of the courts of the land and investigations by the top police officers appointed by the courts. Officers who were spoken of highly, till they acted contrary to masters’ wishes based on their investigations monitored continuously by the highest court of the land. It really speaks poorly of a Prime Minister, whatever be his motive while expressing such views.
His speech and responses clearly show that Congress has accepted defeat and only thing it wants is that BJP should not come to power. And if it wins, Modi should not become PM at any cost. This also puts their support for AAP in right perspective.
It explains the changing tune of AAP when talking of prosecuting Congress leaders. It explains why AAP has suddenly become more anti-BJP than anti-Congress, though it fought for two years and won on an anti-Congress platform.
I can comprehend the venomous hatred Congress has for Modi and BJP and its urge to keep BJP out of office. But, I am surprised that the best known strategists of Congress with years of Machiavellian politics behind them chose to support AAP with such a short-sighted objective forgetting that they would lose Delhi for good, forever. Delhi political trend clearly shows its preference for bi-polar politics. The decimation of Congress shows that the two poles at present are AAP and BJP.
By giving up the fight, they have ceded the ground to AAP for good. They will never be able to claw back into pole position now. The writing is clear on the wall. They refused to learn from history. Wherever they chose to side with third parties to keep out BJP, they have ceded ground to other parties permanently.
Their fate in UP, Bihar, Orissa, Tamil Nadu and Bengal clearly shows the cruel reality. In Kerala, they are ruling with the help of Muslim fundamentalists and Christian supported parties. Their seat and vote share is pathetic. They have no chance on their own. They are losing base to NCP in Goa, they cannot be on their own in Maharashtra, where they have strongest grass-root base. Though, both belong to same Congress family. But, as of now they are dependent on NCP.
They are out of Gujarat for good and goading AAP to take its place at its own peril. It is also a fact that Congress cannot live without oxygen of power beyond one term. Wherever it has been out of power for two terms, the party has lost steam and has lost ground badly.
Unfortunately, Congress has not learnt its lesson, nor has Manmohan Singh. I had always hoped that before he leaves, his true Khalsa spirit will give him spine and force him to do something really great. He showed spine only twice – during the nuclear deal and FDI in retail. Both were non starters. Significantly, both were pushed hard by the US and MNCs.
His swan song shows that once a bureaucrat, always a bureaucrat. And a bureaucrat who knows how to play his politics can survive even at the top, howsoever unsuccessful he may be. His only achievement is saving his seat for nearly 10 years inspite of non-performance and errors of omission and commission. India needed a leader at the critical cusp of moving high in the orbit of success and global power play, not a silent bureaucrat. I feel sad for him and more so for my country, India.