January 16, 2021
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'Sonia's Poodle' Or 'Puppet'? Or Just 'Underachiever?

'Sonia's Poodle' Or 'Puppet'? Or Just 'Underachiever?

Screen Shots courtesy NDTV.com

UK's The Independent newspaper seems to be having a difficult time making up its mind about Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The Independent's website started the day with the headline which asked: "Manmohan Singh: India's saviour or Sonia's poodle?"

Perhaps someone thought "poodle" is what Tony Blair was of George Bush, so it was replaced with "puppet" and the headline thus stood amended to: "Manmohan Singh: India's saviour or Sonia's puppet?"

Within a few minutes, however, the headline was back to "poodle" till finally it was edited to the Time magazine formulation, viz: "Manmohan Singh: India's saviour or just the underachiver."

The administration has been accused of sitting on reforms that could bring in new foreign direct investment (FDI), such as the opening of the food retail sector, and failing to create a sufficiently stable investment, leading to a plunge in FDI of up to 38 per cent in the first part of the year. A decision this spring by the then finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, to allow retroactive taxation of companies was seen as particularly harmful. Last month, the ratings agency Standard and Poor's threatened to downgrade India's investment category and pondered whether it could become the first "fallen angel" of the so-called Bric nations. Inflation is high and there is a trade deficit of around $13bn...

...Observers say one of Mr Singh's problems is that he has no genuine political power. Rather, he owes his position to Sonia Gandhi, widow of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, mother of Rahul and Congress Party chairwoman, who to the delight of India's middleclass selected him for that role when her party won a surprise victory in 2004. This has meant he has sometimes been unable to even control his cabinet and his failure to more quickly address the actions of a coalition minister, accused of defrauding the country up to $40bn in a telecom licence scam, led to him being accused of further weakness.

Read more at the Independent


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