Jun 15, 2012

Manmohan is a Joke, Mamata a Joker

I write this with great empathy for an 80-year old economist who also happens to be the Prime Minister of India. Perhaps for the first time, I feel for Dr. Manmohan Singh and the continuous rebuff he is facing from his party and allies alike. Because all things said and done, Dr. Singh is our country's Prime Minister, the supposed all powerful man in the Indian democracy. The fact that his name was propped up as a probable Presidential candidate speaks a lot about the lack of trust his leadership is generating. He is no more even a lame-duck PM, he is crippled and perhaps amputated beyond repair and recovery.

The sheer audacity of Double Ms- Mamata and Mulayam to name Manmohan as a probable occupant of the Rashtrapati Bhawan, shows that these regional chieftains are fluttering their wings a bit too much. The move is a near endorsement of S&P's scathing attack on leadership qualities of the Prime Minister. There is a growing unease within the UPA ranks regarding Dr. Singh, and many believe that he is more of a liability than an asset for the government.

This move is unprecedented in truest sense of the word and much beyond that. A sitting PM has never been nominated as the President, although this seems to be an 'elevation' in profile, at least in the constitutional terms. Making Manmohan the president will be an admission of his failure as the Prime Minister, a surrender to the grim circumstances that stare this government in face. No doubt Manmohan Singh has proved to be an incapable premier, more so in his second term, there has been rampant corruption, ample mis-governance and lack of reforms in the economic sector. But, there is little doubt over the credibility and integrity of Dr. Singh himself. Yes, he is a weak Prime Minister but I can not imagine him indulging in wrongdoings, whatever Team Anna may say. So, if at all the Congress and the UPA thinks that time is up for Manmohan Singh, they should convey this clearly to him. Singh's phasing out has to be graceful and gradual, without any lollypop attached as 'compensation'.

Also, the post and authority of India's Prime Minister can not be undermined at any cost. Two regional cartoons can not be allowed to show the door to the PM, even if India is a multi-party democracy. It is the right of the people, and the single largest party/alliance to choose the Prime Minister. A couple of opportunistic leaders must not be allowed to humiliate the office at 7, Race Course Road. Embarrassment and defeat at the hands of nonsensical politics is the last thing that a sitting Prime Minister deserves. If Mamata and Mulayam are so fade up with the PM, what forces them to support his government? Do they have the courage to openly speak against the PM and the way he functions (or does not function). A gesture of this kind will strengthen a multi-party democracy, not the silly tactic of one upmanship.

Mulayam is a known gold digger. Dont be surprised if he changes sides tomorrow, in case he is offered a better bargain by the Congress. But what amazes me is the sheer lack of political sense that Mamata Banerjee is displaying. Right from the day of taking oath as the Bengal CM, Mamata has been behaving like a spoilt kid. Her opposition to almost every other UPA decision is bizzare, she is almost etching to ease out of the coalition. Sadly, she has done nothing worth mentioning as the Chief Minister. All the headlines she has received over the last one year has been because of her lunatic behavior, from calling students as 'Maoists' or pushing PM as the President. In the last 48 hours, she has made a joker out of herself and reduced Dr. Singh to a mere joke. Not only this, she has made Kalam a divisive figure, using his dignified name for her narrow gains. Mamata is in dire need of counseling. And Manmohan deserves a bit of pampering.

Political slug-fest is bound to happen in a multi-party democracy ahead of a crucial election, but the cheap theatrics involved in this drama has devalued the post of India's first citizen. Also, source -based reports of 'bargain', where Samajwadi Party may switch sides in return of a cabinet berth or relief from CBI probe, are appalling. One does not expect consensus on a candidate in the current Indian political situation. In fact a contest is what fuels a healthy democracy, and it is much more acceptable than 'Madam' Sonia simply sending her nominee to the Raisina Hill. But decency and civilized politicking is the least we can expect for, specially at a time when the nation is facing challenges at numerous fronts.

Too many backdoor meetings and deal crackings. Too many jokes and jokers around. Is it time India chose its President directly through people's voting?

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