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An honest PM but a weak leader

By Ritesh K Srivastava | Last Updated: Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - 16:52
Ritesh K Srivastava
The Observer

As the voices demanding Dr Manmohan Sigh’s resignation grow louder owing to the recent stalemate on 2G scam with each passing day, it is yet to be seen whether the PM succumbs or faces the storm with firm conviction and determination.

Come what may, but it remains an irony for the biggest democracy in the world that Dr Singh - a man with an impeccable reputation- leads a government, which is currently under scrutiny over serious charges of corruption.

At a time when the combined Opposition had first stalled the entire Winter Session of the Parliament demanding a JPC probe into the 2G scam and is now gunning for his head in the name of morality, Dr Singh’s honesty and integrity still remains unquestioned.

However, the Prime Minister’s unblemished personal record cannot always come to his rescue as he faces allegations of shielding the tainted and corrupt ministers in his cabinet since he is accountable to the people of India.

He may be an economist of international repute and might have served leading financial institutions like the World Bank and the RBI, but he is still answerable to the people of India for the colossal loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crores due to the 2G scam and over Rs 70,000 crores by the wrongdoings of all those involved in the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

More than three months since the CWG events passed and an entire session of Parliament was wasted over the 2G scam, did the government swing into action. Although the CBI has tightened its noose against Suresh Kalmadi, his close aides and A Raja for his role in the spectrum allocation scam, the government’s action is ‘too little’ and ‘too late’ for anything concrete to come out, which is why it is being rejected as a mere eyewash.

Moreover, government’s unwillingness to appoint a JPC probe has complicated the situation to such an extent that the government-opposition clash is now threatening the parliamentary system of functioning.

If the government has been unwilling to conduct a JPC probe into the 2G scam, the Opposition holds its responsibility too for the deadlock and sticking to the same chord.

As the situation stands, there seems no way out of the present imbroglio and if the two sides stick to the present stance, more parliamentary disruptions and unmindful wastage of taxpayers’ money is inevitable in the future.

Dr Singh has recently announced that he is ready to face the PAC over the 2G scam, however, he is against a JPC probe, creating more confusion over his intentions. His move to volunteer to appear before the PAC has also divided the opposition.

When the Opposition had gunned for him in his previous term, calling him a weak PM, Dr Singh’s people-centric governance and his efforts in getting clean nuke energy had helped him silence his critics by winning the second term in office.

Ironically, Dr Singh’s second innings so far have been like a roller-coaster ride with allegations of graft being hurled against his ministers, who have, through their unethical conduct, caused great damage to the reputation of the government.

To some extent, Dr Singh is himself responsible for the pitiable situation he finds himself in. His silence over the CWG mess, his failure to take action against the corrupt Organising Committee officials and his complete lack of timely action against A Raja, much due to pressure from the powerful ally DMK, has subjected him to Opposition’s attack.

No one would believe that he was completely unaware of the alleged bungling of crores of rupees by his cabinet colleagues. Similarly, no one would trust him if he feigns ignorance of A Raja’s wrongdoings.

Since A Raja was the Telecom Minister appointed by him in his Cabinet, Dr Singh owes bigger moral responsibility for DMK leader’s actions. By failing to take timely action to prevent A Raja from causing losses to the exchequer, the PM has given credence to the accusations that he has no control over his cabinet and, instead, is a weak leader.

The Prime Minister was presumably under pressure to keep the coalition alive and ties with Karunanidhi intact. So, he waited while matter became ugly from bad, and Raja was forced to resign paving way for the CBI raids on his residences.

Congress’ dilly-dallying over the issue has proved that it was M Karunanidhi and not Dr Singh, who had the final say in deciding the fate of A Raja.

Clearly, we do not want a Prime Minister who gets deeply frustrated with the fact that those around him are corrupt, but helplessly looks at his ‘supreme boss’ for the directions to do something. A Prime Minister’s task is very challenging and full of responsibilities, so it also provides the incumbent with a lot of discretionary powers to take any action. But, if Dr Manmohan Singh is content fulfilling his party chief’s wishes, then he would never be able to clear himself of the tag of a weak leader or shadow prime minister.

The Opposition will continue to throw more and more muck on the Prime Minister as it is far from playing a constructive role and acting as a deterrent to the government’s wrong doing. So, in my personal opinion, Dr Singh must resign in order to save himself from the sin of carrying the blame and burden of his corrupt colleagues. Else, he needs to start cracking the whip when a lashing is needed.

Our Prime Minister is a visionary leader and there is no doubt over his intentions to make India an empowered state in the years to come, but if he fails to come out of the shadows of his ‘master’ and rule India in his own way, he will go down in the annals of history as an honest but a weak PM.

First Published: Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - 16:52

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