February 23, 2020
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An Unworkable Jugalbandi

An Unworkable Jugalbandi

Ramachandra Guha in the Telegraph:

Two words best capture the reaction of the current government to crises such as the Telangana, 2G, and Hazare/Ramdev affairs. These are confusion and inaction. Both are a consequence of a near-total abdication of responsibility, when it comes to domestic policies, by Manmohan Singh, and a selective abdication by Sonia Gandhi. Hailed by many commentators when it first presented itself in 2004, this jugalbandi of a prime minister with status but no authority and a party president with authority but no formal position in government has been exposed as unworkable. One wishes the prime minister had, at least in 2009, the courage to stand for a Lok Sabha seat — which he would have won, permitting him to enjoy the real respect of his colleagues in government. Or else the party president should, at least in 2009, have become prime minister herself, to take on the responsibility directly, to thus expose herself to public criticism as well as public praise.

By the standards of Indian politics both Singh and Ms Gandhi are decent people. Neither is sectarian, and both, I believe, have a genuine concern for the welfare of their compatriots. But the weakness of the one and the insecurity of the other have combined to produce an administration that is inept and incompetent beyond words. This has deeply damaged the credibility of Singh and Ms Gandhi, the credibility of the Congress, and the credibility of the republic of India itself.

Read the full article at the Telegraph: Looking Three Ways

Vir Sanghvi adds:

I’ve tried very hard to work out what has gone wrong. How did a man whom the Indian middle class so respected and admired during his first term turn into this shadowy cipher? How did the hero of educated India become the sort of chap who is reluctant to face the media and is unwilling to offer any visible leadership to his own people?

Try as I might, I cannot work it out.

The best I can offer is a hypothesis. My view is that Manmohan Singh did not seriously expect to become PM. Even when he got the job, he thought his tenure would not last the full five years. When it became clear that he was going to be around for the entire term of parliament, he began to get edgy and frustrated.

Read the full piece on his blog: Manmohan Talks


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