Tuesday, March 28th, 2023 05:42:05

Where has rutba of 2004 Manmohan Singh gone?

Updated: October 12, 2013 2:28 pm

If India’s democracy was like that of a western country, Dr Manmohan Singh would have lost his top job a long time ago, provided he got it at all. A person who became MP after lies about his residence and that too in the Rajya Sabha could not have become prime minister. Post the late VP Singh’s resignation as Prime Minister, Chandrashekhar’s government was formed. Manmohan Singh was the Economic Advisor of this government. Soon, the Congress withdrew its support, due to which the government fell. Prime Minister Chandrashekhar resigned from his post on March 6, 1991, but continued as the caretaker Prime Minister till the next elections. After the government fell, Prime Minister Chandrashekhar was sitting with his colleagues, discussing further strategies when Manmohan Singh came to meet Chandrashekhar and asked in a sad tone, “Now what will happen to me, what will I do?”

The people present at the meeting were quite startled by what Dr Singh was saying. The government had fallen and there was dismay about what would happen in the country, and here was Manmohan Singh—worried about himself and his future. What Manmohan Singh reportedly said further was even more shocking. He reportedly said: “Chandrashekharji, the post of the Chairman of University Grants Commission (UGC) is vacant, please send me there.” Perhaps this was the only back-dated decision Chandrashekharji took after resigning, and on March 15, 1991, Manmohan Singh became the Chairman of the UGC.

If this is true, it means Dr Singh is not above hera-pheri. Sadly, he is presiding over a country and not acting like Akshay Kumar in the film Hera Pheri.

Other instances are there when he would have been forced to resign. The declaration he signed at Sharmal Sheikh was such a betrayal of the country that he would have to resign in any western democracy. Leave aside several corruption cases, in the CWG scandal, Dr Singh would have gone. And then with the Coalgate, he would have been left with no choice but to go, if he was Prime Minister in Britain, Chancellor in Germany or President in France or America! We don’t wonder why Dr Singh has lost his rutba, which in any case was diluted by the alleged puppeteer role Sonia Gandhi played.

But he survived all the shocking events because India’s democracy is not as vibrant as is made out. Once the Congress is in power, the democracy is both feudal and one dynasty show. And the Dynasty is perennial, thanks to the dynasty’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. He refused to listen to the advice by both CR Rajagopalachari and Dr Sarvappali Radhakrishnan, who wanted that initially voting rights be given to those who are at least matriculates. Great democrat that Nehru was he refused their advice and said everyone would have the right. This has paid dividends to the Dynasty. Masses of illiterates have been voting for the Family. It is now only that the television is teaching them who is right and who is in the wrong. The result is today the Dynasty is in danger.

But Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the so-called vibrant Indian democracy survived to be called a chor and be very upset about it. He lamented on the floor of the House that he was the first Prime Minister to be called chor. No one stood up to sympathise with him. Now, a statement rather a question in Chauthi Duniya, a Hindi paper, is: Manmohan Singh could go to jail. God! What a dreadful day it would be for the country, when a Prime Minister of India called chor, and koyla chor by politicsparty.com is taken to Tihar Jail and left behind in a cramped and damp cell.

If Manmohan Singh after being called a chor goes to jail, will it be the logical conclusion? A chor normally ends up in jail. What is wrong with that? A thief’s right place is in a prison, the thieves’ tenancy in the cell
would depend on the amount that was usurped illegally; more the amount, greater period of incarceration it would be.

But since Singh is presently India’s Prime Minister, one as an Indian would not only be embarrassed but sorry and ashamed. It would indeed be a sad day for India and democracy. “However, given the scale of corruption during the UPA’s second term, it might turn out that Singh was not only presiding over the loot by his ministers but he himself was a lootera,” said a veteran Congressman who is on the pile of outcasts.

The justification, however, for the paper stating that Singh could go to jail seems logical. It alleges that so far in dealing with the scam in allocating coal blocks, the government has tried to turn the truth into a lie and a lie into the truth. The Supreme Court has no wonder made critical observations on reports by the CBI.

Since the paper was the first to expose the coal scam on October 7, 2011, it claims to understand and analyse the trend the case is taking and the stand of the apex court so far. And it alleges that the signals indicate high possibility of Singh going to jail by December. It is not too far away.

The more serious matter is that out of 236 files 186 relating to coal block allocations and other matters relating to it are missing. As Dr Singh held the charge of Coal Ministry for almost three years, this would have happened during that period.

How could so many files, more than half of the files relating to coal block allocations etc, simply disappear? The South and North Blocks and even Bhavans, from which many ministeries’ function, are too heavily guarded. One doesn’t expect mischievous pimps coming in the night and taking away files, only relating to coal allocations. They must be literate and loyal to Dr Singh and some bureaucrats. To steal (no better word) so many files, one would normally expect a chor or chors to bring mini-bus or a limousine. Is it possible to bring such vehicles without being challenged? So, the assumption is that someone in authority whisked them away.

The Supreme Court has given the CBI time to trace them. The Coal Ministry is dragging its feet. What would happen if they are not found? The court would order an inquiry as to how these files disappeared and who was or were the chors. The opposition seems to have already decided the identity of the chor. They have shouted chor, chor looking at Dr Singh. That is what he was lamenting about.

All this is very sad. Manmohan Singh started his innings as Prime Minister in 2004 as a surprise choice of Sonia Gandhi. In 2009, the Congress won 206 seats in the Lok Sabha with an honest image of Dr Singh, but in 2013 in the eyes of the people he is no longer honest. Now, instead of calling him Mr. Clean, people are calling him Mr. Clean-up… The Congress will have to suffer for several years the consequences of making a non-political person the Prime Minister of the country, says a senior Congress leader.

India is paying a heavy price for having a weak, inert Prime Minister at the helm. Corruption is now in billions, much beyond the inflation rate. The Singh government is the first government from which a minister went to jail. But so far no scamster has been punished. Now it seems that even the Prime Minister could not escape from the suspicion, if not charges of corruption. When the coal scam was exposed, Manmohan Singh had declared that if even just the needle of suspicion points at him, he would retire (take sannyas) from public life.

The Supreme Court has passed many critical comments that anyone with self-respect would have resigned. Manmohan Singh was Mr. Clean like Rajiv Gandhi when they started their tenure as Prime Ministers. But both in course of time were called Mr Clean-up. Now we understand why the opposition called him a chor. How will history assess Manmohan Singh? From Hon’ble to not so hon’ble. And this is the sad ending of a prime minister who is in the hands of the puppeteer. You guessed it.

By Vijay Dutt

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