When prime ministers are reported to be "deeply unhappy" and "on the verge of putting in their papers", the nation must sit up and take notice. The last few weeks have arguably been the lowest point in the prime ministership of Dr Manmohan Singh. The problems of running a huge, unwieldy democracy apart, there was a buzz in Delhi's corridors about his troubled state of mind.
The immediate provocation for the "unhappy PM" stories may have been the DMK's threat to pull out of the UPA if the divestment of the state-run Neyveli Lignite Corporation was not put on hold (the DMK's headbutting resulted in the entire disinvestment process being stalled). But this time it was not just the allies or even the Left parties making the PM's life miserable. The real problem was mounting tension between the PM and his party. As many Congressmen saw it, an apolitical prime minister had been taking too many policy positions for which there would be a political price to pay. In grand old Congress tradition, there continue to be several views on the Indo-US nuclear deal, the petrol hike leading to escalating prices, the PM's ambiguity on reservations, disinvestment, economic reforms and even the proposal to build a security shield around the disputed site at Ayodhya.