The debate whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is "weak" is completely spurious. As is the debate whether the PM is an "apolitical" person. Dr Manmohan Singh’s persona has come in for microscopic examination
-- and I welcome it. After all, he was our prime minister and could once again be our prime minister. So, the electorate is perfectly justified in asking questions about the style and substance of his personality.
Apolitical person? Rubbish. This was a myth spread largely by some of the PM’s spin doctors so that he would not be judged by the unsparing standards all politicians are judged by. You cannot be a leader of a complex, indeed sometimes crazy, coalition government without being overtly "political". Dealing with Laloo Yadav, Karunanidhi, Sharad Pawar and Prakash Karat requires skills which only a person well-versed in the crafty art of give and take can accomplish.
Consider how stealthily and successfully Dr Singh managed to enlist the support of the Samajwadi Party to ensure the survival of the UPA after he had been ditched by the Left parties. The dinner at Dr Singh’s residence for friends and UPA allies at which one seat on Amar Singh’s table was kept vacant so that the PM could casually stroll across and sit with him -- when not many were inclined to socialise with the SP leader -- had more than symbolic value.
Is he a "weak" prime minister? I don’t know. Only the electorate can pronounce verdict on that question. Conversely, is Mr LK Advani a "strong" leader? I don’t know. Only the electorate can decide. Of course, political parties play these name-calling games, but they mean very little to the voter.
The outrage over the PM’s new "aggressiveness" is also bogus. We are in the middle of a heated and critical election; we are not having tea and cucumber sandwiches at Rahstrapati Bhawan!
Tailpiece: The vice-president of the United States, Joe Biden, called his opponent a "f…… moron". No eyebrows were raised.