February 20, 2020
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Why Everyone Loves To Needle Manmohan

Rule of Four: The opposition, the party, the corporate sector, the middle class/aam aadmi

Why Everyone Loves To Needle Manmohan

The Opposition

  • Since Manmohan is an RS member without a mass base, the BJP finds it easy to target his “weak” leadership
  • As he is perceived to not enjoy the full support of his own party, it’s confident he won’t hit back at its barbs
  • The inclusion of corrupt ministers and his silence on the scams have encouraged charges of indifference
  • Galloping inflation makes it easy for Left to punch holes in his reputation as top-notch economist. Good governance has become a joke in BJP eyes.

The Party

  • Many in the Congress see his pro-reforms policies as running against the socialist agenda of the party
  • Although he was the urban face on the ’09 poll posters, his diminishing image has little utility for them in 2014
  • Has sparred with National Advisory Council (NAC) headed by Sonia Gandhi on food security and other issues
  • Partymen reluctant to defend him. Ministers like Chidambaram speak openly of “governance deficit”.

The Corporate Sector

  • Despite his pro-reforms image, has done little to remove environment ministry hurdles stalling major projects
  • Foreign investors wary of putting their money into projects in an environment of scams and uncertainty
  • Tapping of phones of top corporate honchos by the government seen as invasion of privacy
  • Drive against black money and Swiss bank accounts could deter investors, affect market sentiment and impact the India story

Middle Class/Aam Aadmi

  • Values growth at all costs. Has done little to assuage aam aadmi on price rise except to issue periodic assurances.
  • “What use is Mr Clean’s personal integrity if he seeks shelter under ‘coalition dharma’ for all the ills?”
  • Has not effectively implemented rural development schemes while general governance goes for a toss
  • Is aloof, does not communicate clearly and directly with them on core issues. There is no “connect” even in the present media-saturated polity.
What He’s Got Wrong (So Far)   Why Congress Still Needs Him (For Now)
  • Banks too much on his personal integrity to bail him out of every mess instead of rolling up his sleeve
  • Does not communicate clearly, cogently and more often with the people through the media
  • Blames coalition politics (for corruption, governance) and international situation (inflation) for his woes
  • Fails to strike a balance between reforms and growth, while addressing aam aadmi's concerns
  • Sonia Gandhi still trusts Manmohan Singh more than contenders like Pranab Mukherjee and P. Chidambaram
  • Party buzz is that it is unwise to bring in Rahul Gandhi just yet. Others like A.K. Antony seen as unacceptable.
  • The party’s hopeful that Manmohan will somehow bring about a course-correction during the remainder of his term
  • Despite his image having taken a beating because of several scams, his personal integrity is intact


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