Thursday, May 28, 2015

How to handle bureaucrat-turned politician Manmohan Singh? All about Modi’s warmth and Shah’s anger

PMO site describes Dr Singh as a "thinker and scholar"
ON WEDNESDAY, bureaucrat-turned former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s meeting with prime minister Narendra Modi at 7 Race Course Road surprised not just those belonging to the BJP and the Congress, but also the ones who are pure apolitical. PM tweeted “Very happy to meet Dr. Manmohan Singh ji and welcome him back to 7RCR. We had a great meeting”, with a photo of a warm handshake attached to the post. In fact, most Congress leaders were…
unaware that Dr Singh had a scheduled meeting with the PM at the latter’s invitation. And when it was on public domain, the party’s official line was that there was nothing unusual about the meeting. Yes, a meeting between a former PM and the current PM, that too on issues of economy and foreign policy, can’t be treated as unusual. But if one takes a closer look at the backdrop in which this meeting took place, it will tell a different tale altogether.
For ordinary citizens, it was quite intriguing how come Dr Singh, who (in an unusual manner) lashed out at PM Modi earlier in the day at an NSUI meet in New Delhi, finally landed up at the PM’s residence during the later part of the day. Also, the BJP on Wednesday had a special press conference, televised all across channels, where a spokesperson rebutted Dr Singh point by point. And it was the day, Amit Shah, the BJP’s second most important person after Modi, attacked Dr Singh for the first time and accused him of “lying with a straight face”. Shah further said that under Singh’s rule, scams of Rs 12 lakh crore occurred.
But PM Modi displayed warmth, and went out of the way to show in public that Dr Singh was a very special guest.
All newspapers today rightly front-paged the story but hinted at this utter confusion. The Times of India says: “Eyebrows rise as Manmohan slams Modi, then meets him”. The Indian Express carries the photo along with two headlines: “PM attacks Sonia: Unconstitutional authority had power over the PMO” and “Hurt Manmohan hits out: Never used my office to enrich myself or family”. The financial daily, Business Standard, says: “Singh attacks, Modi deflects”.
Meanwhile, the revamped PMO website, re-launched on the occasion of the completion of the first year of Modi-led government, includes a section on former PMs where Dr Singh (who was PM between May 22, 2004 and May 26, 2014) is described as a “thinker and a scholar”. “He (Manmohan Singh) is well regarded for his diligence and his academic approach to work, as well as his accessibility and his unassuming demeanour”, it says.
Now, once you read these adjectives in the profile, can you say Dr Singh is “lying with a straight face” as Amit Shah said publicly on Wednesday? And if you are an ordinary BJP worker, you may end up standing between Modi’s “warmth” and Shah’s “anger” for and against the same Manmohan Singh and that too on the same day.
Mind it. Even the detractors of Dr Singh would concede that he did not make a single rupee out of multi-crore “loot’ that took place during the 10-year-long UPA regime. And as the CBI probe on coal allocation sullied Dr Singh’s reputation as an honest man, and former bureaucrats like HC Gupta (in a CBI court) and Pradip Baijal (in a recently published book) cornered Dr Singh, the former PM is hurt for sure. Dr Singh does not want to go down in history as an accused in a multi-billion dollar corruption case. That’s why, as the pressure builds up, he breaks his silence and says something which everyone seems to know: “Never used my office to enrich myself or family”.
But did the former PM enrich anyone? Or, did he take command from anyone to serve the coalition dharma? And if yes, will he say tell frankly? Will the right combo of anger (pressure) and warmth force Dr Singh to do so?
Never forget. Dr Singh is also a former bureaucrat whose honestly is today repeatedly challenged though neither he nor his family member was actually involved in any corruption loot. In fact, when Vinod Rai was handpicked by the UPA as the CAG, a post-retirement job till 65 years of age reserved only for the highly loyal bureaucrat, no one in the UPA brass could ever dream that Rai could turn out to be its biggest liability. Many big-ticket corruption cases were unearthed, and the nation as a whole benefited from Rai’s “disloyalty”. But what about Dr Singh?
Let’s keep this post inconclusive, for now!

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