Manmohan—Time to Move On

The report carried by Time magazine on India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh calling him an “underachiever” is, well not something like a bolt out of the blue isn’t it. It really is time for Manmohan to be allowed to exit from his position as Head of the Government. Two terms of office i.e. close to a decade is a long time to be running a government. Whatever role that Manmohan had to play, in the aftermath of Sonia Gandhi declining the post of Prime Minister, he has done so albeit quite reluctantly. Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister has reached its saturation point and the sooner he moves out the better. However the problem for the Congress party is that there is not much time left for the 2014 General Election to warrant a change at this juncture. Besides with chief trouble shooter and Mr reliable of the Manmohan Cabinet Mr Pranab Mukherjee out of government and politics, there is really no one to turn to. Is it possible for Rahul Gandhi (the PM in waiting) to be entrusted with this job even before the next election is due? This is a call that will have to be taken by the party high command. However the Congress has made it clear that Manmohan will continue as PM till the end of the current tenure. So that leaves us with possibly another two years of Manmohan as PM. This may work or may not work for the Congress in the run up to the next General Election. 

The thing with the current situation is that Manmohan cannot be faulted for the position he is in. Firstly he was handpicked by Congress President Sonia Gandhi to run her government. All of us are aware of the circumstances which led to Sonia renouncing the chance to become PM. The fact is that Sonia runs the government and who can deny this. The PM, in this case Manmohan, does not command authority either in Parliament or the Government. He is neither the ‘Leader’ of the House or the Head’ of the Government but something like a figure head. A Prime Minister should be like a David Cameroon (the British PM) who can be described as ‘first among equals’. Does Manmohan Singh fit into this description? Perhaps we in India during the present UPA regime have developed a new system where the PM does not lead but is led. No doubt, the careful move to bring in the honest, humble and simple Manmohan Singh to the top job did work out initially. The first five years was manageable to some extent with Manmohan at the helm of affairs. But he was almost forced to stay on. Secondly coming to the defence of Manmohan, he is not a politician either by birth or training and he cannot be expected to lead a government that is essentially political in substance and style. To lead a country of over one billion people, one has to carry a lot of political weight and clout, which Manmohan clearly lacked. Perhaps even the Congress party should have seen the limitation of having him continue as PM. Unfortunately they continue to defend the indefensible. Manmohan has served the country well to the best of his ability. It’s now time for him to really move on. If he continues to remain in office, which presumably he will, he should at least stand up to lead—be proactive and bold. Show some muscle.