PM's swansong

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has read the writing on the country’s political wall. Until recently, every time questions were raised about his retirement plans, Singh had maintained that he will not run away from shouldering the responsibility as prime minister. Not any longer.

On Friday, he announced that he will not be available for the job after the next Lok Sabha elections, which will over by May end. The almost unanimous conclusion in the wake of the recent round of state Assembly elections is that the Congress party will be the biggest loser in the upcoming elections. With just a few allies left in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, it will be also be the end of this alliance. It may be unkind to him, but sections of Congressmen and those from allied parties blame the poor track record of his government for the current dismal state of the party and the alliance, be it about corruption, inflation or the economic slowdown. In fact, many would want him replaced even before the elections. So it is not surprising, therefore, that Singh has declared himself unavailable for the top job after the elections. 

His political instincts were in full view in other ways as well in the course of his rare press conference in the national capital on Friday. The prime minister was less than candid as he fielded questions from media persons on the key issue of corruption that has destroyed the credibility of the UPA government unlike any other issues that dogged it over the last few years. In one brazen stroke he buried all allegations of corruption against his government – that these allegations pertained to the record of the first UPA government between 2004-2009 and that the people of the country had re-elected the alliance with a bigger mandate in 2009!Singh wants us to believe that the veracity of allegations of corruption should be decided through elections. Probably this is why his government has consistently shied away from ordering investigations into a number of graft allegations against his government. Going by his logic, isn’t then there is a case for him to offer himself again as a candidate for retaining his job beyond May 2014? But, as he prepares to move out, Singh has one wish: he wants the history to be kinder to him than the current history as narrated by the media over the years.

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