After being at the helm of affairs for nearly a decade, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (“Will this legacy last?” April 14) cannot expect history to be kind to him — for the simple reason that he headed a Cabinet that was run to the ground by a number of scams. He could not exercise his authority and ended up looking jaded. One cannot help agree with the observation in the book by former media adviser to Dr. Singh, Mr. Sanjaya Baru, that he may have had no option but to toe the line of Congress president Sonia Gandhi to ensure that he remained in power. One cannot even call it a partnership; it was a proprietorship, in which he was a faithful manager. The 2G scam is a classic example where Dr. Singh could do nothing and his role is still a mystery. Mr. Baru’s book is only a narrative of what happened during the last 10 years.
Mr. Baru has only said what the country already knew. Senior BJP leader L.K. Advani was the first to call Dr. Singh the weakest Prime Minister ever in India. It is best and more dignified to remember Dr. Manmohan Singh as one of the country’s top finance ministers than as its Prime Minister.
UPA I and II were run according to the diktats of the Gandhis. It is a fact that the Congress has lost its credibility. But rather than attacking the Congress, it is a fact that other political outfits are a disaster too. The Third Front is a conglomeration of different parties with different ideologies pulling in different directions. The AAP is now a non-starter. In such a situation, it is the BJP alone that can save us as people want to see a Gujarat-model government for the whole of India.
That Mrs. Gandhi was the ‘Super Prime Minister’ who sidelined a silent Dr. Singh in almost every decision is largely what one can infer from reports on Mr. Baru’s book. During Pandit Nehru’s time, Minister T.T. Krishnamachari resigned when the Mundhra episode was raised in Parliament — with a corruption value worth a few lakhs of rupees, probably amounting to the cost of a late-night dinner in a five-star hotel in Delhi today. Under Dr. Singh, there was many Mundhras, with their value estimated to be in lakhs of crores. Attacking Mr. Baru cannot absolve the Congress’ misrule by proxy, and Dr. Singh’s stony silence has only made matters worse. Let us hope the media do not sweep the revelations under the carpet despite pressure from the regime.
The article was an objective assessment of the Sonia Gandhi-Manmohan Singh partnership. Mr. Baru’s sordid attempts to create an impression of subservience on the part of Dr. Singh to Mrs. Gandhi falls flat on its face as the two leaders have shared a mutually respectful relationship. It is pertinent to note that Mrs. Gandhi never allowed any party functionary to belittle Dr. Singh all these years. The Prime Minister deserves credit for having done his best to maintain the cordiality in the functioning of the diarchy. In the end, it is only Mr. Baru who seems to have emerged as one very frustrated soul.
J. Anantha Padmanabhan,
The timing of the release of the controversial book raises many questions. Mr. Baru needs to come clean on this. Also, did Dr. Singh act based on knowing his limitations, or did he want to complete his second term? The real truth will be known much later.
K. Vinaya Kumar,
The Congress has labelled the claims by Mr. Baru as “fiction.” Although we cannot independently determine the authenticity of his claims, it is unfortunate that Mr. Baru has betrayed the PMO. He should have shown respect to Dr. Singh. Even if his statements are true, the book could have been written and released later.
If we can all recollect the turn of events beginning with the 2G scam, it is a fact that the Prime Minister was nowhere to be found refuting the charges or challenging the Opposition. His inaction has been far beyond reasoning. The PMO has of course rubbished the contents as fiction, but it has to substantiate whether Dr. Singh was indeed the captain of the ship when it sailed and not only when it is about to sink.
The title of the book and the timing of its release serve only to trigger suspicions. Mr. Baru has betrayed Dr. Singh and has shown himself to be another M.O. Mathai. But the fact is that with or without this book, the Congress party is still going to suffer a setback.
M. Somasekhar Prasad,
I am sure that all those who criticise the revelations on the grounds of confidentiality and as being unethical would have welcomed it had it been about Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee, on confidential matters during the NDA regime, and that the RSS was controlling the government remotely.
One is amused to read about the reactions. Remote-controlling is not a new strategy. Lalu Prasad ruled Bihar though his wife, Rabri Devi. Something similar happened in Tamil Nadu too when a Chief Minister faced tough times. Mr. Baru’s act might be one of betrayal, but this is a democracy where everything has to be shared.
Mr. Baru can be called desperate. Desperate to inflict damage when election campaigning is at its peak and ensure that he has a fat bank balance. He was not displayed even an iota of decency. However, this so-called “new information” will have no impact on the electorate. They are more concerned about the future and a new government.
Keywords: Sanjaya Baru, Sonia Gandhi-Manmohan Singh partnership, Gandhi family, Manmohan Singh, Congress, Prime Minister's Office, Sanjaya Baru's book, media adviser, Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh