Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Why He Will Be even More Dangerous for India in 2013

This man has already achieved what no other non-member of the Gandhi family has ever done. The closest to his record is Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who was Prime Minister for six consecutive years between 1998 and 2004. P. V. Narasimha Rao is another non-Gandhi who completed 5 uninterrupted years as the Prime Minister. The next best is a Gandhi family member Rajiv Gandhi, who led the government between 1984 and 1989. No other Prime Minister – except Jawaharhal Nehru and Indira Gandhi – has survived five uninterrupted years as Prime Minister. Nehru was PM continuously from 1947 till his death in 1964. Indira Gandhi was PM between 1966 and 1984, except for a two and half year exile between 1977 and end-1979. The way things are changing in Indian society and economy in terms of aspirations and expectations, even die-hard supporters of Congress will snigger at the suggestion that Rahul Gandhi could be Prime Minister for 10 consecutive years beginning 2014. So there is absolutely no doubt that, in a factual context, Manmohan Singh has already secured his place in history. It is a different matter that an ‘unelectable’ bureaucrat completing 10 successive years as Prime Minister reflects on the quality and the depth of Indian democracy. But credit must be given. Manmohan Singh will almost certainly complete 10 years as PM. But will history talk about him and his lengthy tenure the way it will keep dissecting the track record of Nehru and Indira? For that matter, forget Nehru and Indira, will he ever acquire the stature that even Vajpayee has assured for himself? Let’s look at it in another, more blunt manner: will history ever talk about the legacy left behind by Manmohan Singh? Quite frankly, history books will confine him to a supporting role at best as they analyze the legacy of Sonia Gandhi. Sad, but Dr. Singh will leave behind no legacy: faceless bureaucrats who selflessly do the bidding of political masters never do so.

And yet the man, the economist, the bureaucrat, the courtier and the reluctant politician knows that he has achieved something phenomenal by becoming Prime Minister for two consecutive terms. And even faceless bureaucrats have egos and dreams. There is no doubt whatsoever that Dr. Singh knows his days as Prime Minister are numbered. He knows that even if the UPA manages to win another term in 2014 and Rahul Gandhi decides he is better off enacting the role of Sonia Gandhi by pulling the strings from behind the scenes, it is another courtier who would be anointed Prime Minister. He also knows that fawning Congressmen will instantly delete him from even contemporary footnotes the moment another courtier takes his post. I mean, if they don’t care a fig about him even now when he is the Prime Minister, what chance would he have as an elderly statesman without even the fig leaf of perceived power and authority? Surely, it must be rankling. It would rankle any normal human being with normal feelings and human emotions. And Dr. Singh is undoubtedly the embodiment of middle class normalcy.

This is where India begins to enter very dangerous times. Dr. Singh would be determined to leave at least some legacy behind. He is not a fool. He knows there is no chance of a political legacy of the kind left behind by Nehru, Indira and Vajpayee. He also knows that history books will credit not him, but Narasimha Rao as the architect of economic reforms. In fact, in terms of economic performance, his long tenure as PM would be torn to shreds by objective historians. Do remember, he was aware of all this even back in 2008 when it was not certain that the UPA would be voted back to power.

Source : IIPM Editorial, 2013.
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