Manmohan Singh: you've nothing to hide, why hide?

Dear Manmohan Singh-ji

The last few months could not but have saddened you. Your reputation has taken a knock, and today it is almost impossible to find any newspaper or media columnist talking positively about you. Your own party is thinking of you as a deadweight. Check out Digvijaya Singh’s careless comments on Rahul Gandhi's fitness for the office you hold. Despite a hasty denial, it’s clear that the party thinks you are little more than a nightwatchman.

You are widely seen as a good man who has lost his moral moorings, thanks to the political compromises forced on you by a coalition government, and your excessive loyalty to Sonia Gandhi, who does not seem to be managing coalition pressures too well herself. It seems you are willing to sacrifice your own high public standing to ensure her son’s rise. You are, in effect, the Gandhi family’s doormat. Is this what you want history to record? Is this what Guru Gobind Singh would be proud of in you?

 Manmohan Singh: youve nothing to hide, why hide?You have not shown any kind of spine in terms of governance. From Dayanidhi Maran to A Raja to Suresh Kalmadi, everyone seems to have taken you for a ride. Two of them are in jail, and that could not have done your reputation any good. Your were presiding over a cabinet stuffed with future jailbirds.

The record, unfortunately, shows that you knew they were upto no good but still didn’t act. One senior editor thinks you are a PM in hiding, another columnist thinks you have displayed “brazen indifference” to the country’s predicament, and this writer has referred to you as Nero in the past. The Twitterati find you a leader missing in action.

Is this how you want your services to the country to be remembered? Do you want your tenure to end not on the high of achievement, but on the low of non-performance, self-pity and public criticism? Why have you reduced yourself to this caricature? Why are you waiting for Sonia to dump you on the dustbin of history?

All is not lost, though. In the past, you have found your voice, when the Left kept bullying you and treating you like you were irrelevant. When LK Advani kept needling you about being the "weakest Prime Minister" during the 2009 campaign, you gave it back to him and came out trumps.

Surely, you have spark, self-respect. But so far in UPA-II, you have kept it well-hidden. You are probably driven by a strong sense of loyalty to Sonia Gandhi, on the false assumption that she did you a favour by standing down as PM candidate in 2004.

But she did nothing of the sort. She was merely doing herself a favour. By allegedly sacrificing power, she accumulated more power. As PM she would have been a disaster. Imagine her defending herself for letting Ottavio Quattrochi go scot-free. Your government did the dirty work for her, and you have had to defend this action of favouring her friend even though you had no interest in it.

Sonia and the party opposed a JPC to probe the 2G scam, when you were more than willing to oblige. But in the end they hid behind your saintly image to extricate themselves from public scrutiny.

The same is the case with the Lokpal. They want to keep you out of the ambit of the Lokpal Bill. I am sure you have nothing to hide. But you have kept mum. Why don't you speak out, like you did when you said you were willing to answer questions on the 2G scam in front of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC)? Clearly, the party is using your honesty as a shield to hide other things. Why should you provide them cover?

As PM, Sonia would have had to be accountable, respond to attacks in Parliament, and, above all, could not pretend that things that went wrong were not her doing. By keeping you as PM, she can now claim credit for all the good things you do, and wash her hands off the things that look bad on her CV. Things like the spectrum scam, the various corruption cases, or inflation, or slowing growth – all of which are the result of her own poor understanding of economics and weak coalition management.

You are, in effect, carrying the can for Sonia Gandhi. She needs you more than you need her.

Manmohan Singh-ji, loyalty to a human being is fine. But loyalty to the country and maintaining the high traditions of the office you hold are even more important.

You sit in the same seat (metaphorically) that once had Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Morarji Desai and Atal Behari Vajpayee sitting on it.  You have to live up to it.

Your days as PM are anyway numbered. You know that after the next election - or even earlier - the dynasty will claim this high office for Rahul Gandhi, assuming the Congress is in a position to form a government.

The Digvijaya Singhs of the world will not even give you the option of leaving this office with dignity. This is why they talk crassly of your replacement.

You have nothing to lose anymore. You must do the right thing. Speak out about your mistakes. Speak out about the Rajas and Marans and Kalmadis of the world. Take the right decisions. Re-earn your place in history.

The Manmohan Singh of 1991-92, who saved this country from bankruptcy and put India on the road to superpowerdom, is waiting to be re-discovered. What we are now seeing is a shrunken wimp in Manmohan Singh's clothes.

The alternative is to exit office unsung, after being shown the door by the dynasty. The choice is yours.

Yours sincerely

R. Jagannathan

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Updated Date: Jun 27, 2011 06:24:06 IST