By Tushar Mangl:
In his last press conference as the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh said, “History will judge me kindly”. I know, who cares about him anymore? He does not feature in any of the flashy ad campaigns of the Congress anymore. He is not even an election issue this time around. Ironic, isn’t it? You have a man who ruled (at least officially) India for the past 10 years and we don’t want to even talk about him! Shouldn’t this be the time when we think about him and his contributions, especially when his own party is promising us a host of freebies and promises. The whole campaign sounds like Mutual Fund company lingo, which says, past performances are no guarantee of future results.
Hence, my question. Will history even judge him? His only fame came from a ferociously biased media, who sang propaganda lines of his splendid achievement on the 90’s, when he liberalized the economy. Had he not done that, India would have been doomed. So media painted him a hero, like it likes to do with all Congress actors, especially the ones close to the Gandhi Dynasty (Remember Digvijay Singh and how media is always besotted by his words). The media, had it been little honest, would have told us all about the mismanagement of our country by the Indian National Congress since independence, which almost led to a certain doom for the country in the 90’s. Instead, it painted a hero out of Dr. Singh. So the man who stabbed my back gets a trophy from me, for he did call the ambulance. Didn’t he?
It was this so called ‘Honest Man’ tag gifted by the media propaganda machinery that was hailed when Dr. Singh first became the Prime Minister. Like a good caretaker, he made sure that his earlier master’s (Rajiv Gandhi) children prosper and do well. In his zeal to do that job well, he forgot all about his duties towards his own motherland. He perhaps knew well, that the Dynasty and the Media would always side by him. And it did. In the last elections, the media again hailed his achievements and how honest he was. Although, to push the nuclear deal in the Parliament, some one paid Member of Parliaments cash to vote in his favor. We never know who and would never know. Again, the media craftily sidelined the fact that the seeds were sown by Vajpayee and Dr. Singh was merely enjoying the fruits. Not surprisingly, UPA-2 came back with Dr. Singh leading it.
But, while his luck may have sided with him yet again, his image has taken a drastic fall in the past five years. For even the media propaganda machinery could not save him from judicial activism which led to opening the cans on a number of scams in his first tenure. While they did their best to cover up as many scams as they could (How much do you know about the space scam? And the Gail scam of Tamil Nadu?), the scams were just too many to cover up. At best, the media tried to portray him as a ‘bechara’ PM, surrounded by bad people. But to what extent can you take this story forward. Even the eternal soap opera ‘Kyunki Saas bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’ ran out of story plot someday. So, media dumped him in favor of Rahul Gandhi (The media has been calling him a youth icon, youth leader for a decade or more I guess, and I wonder, how many years will that story run).
For the very same reasons, Dr. Singh’s party men have given up on him too. After all, what else could he give them? Almost all of them have their assets increased 4-5 times every 5 years. (In a recent poll filing, Sonia Gandhi’s assets increased 6 times in past 5 years, so says some news reports). He has done his duty to his party, according to him I guess. His loyalty is pristine, if not his reputation. He never asked, voluntarily at least, any of his party member to leave a post on allegations of corruption. As much as the media drills in to our minds, what an awesome and great and what not economist he is, he did nothing much for the economy (At least of the country’s. I can’t say that for his party). Except of course dole out freebies and extinguishing the financial strength of our economy. If for one thing, we might remember him ever would be for this financial hotch potch he is throwing on his successor.
Remember Narsimha Rao? You don’t? Well he too was a prime minister of India once. But was conveniently forgotten in the larger interests of the Dynasty and other things. Like him, Dr. Singh would too fade away. Already, they are throwing away his policies (don’t ask me what they were, no one knows for sure what he really wanted to do in office) and his party is out with new schemes and promises and freebies which Rahulji would implement. They are not even trying to paint a rosy picture of his tenure in the campaign for Lok Sabha elections of 2014.
Sociology might ask uncomfortable questions like why a society would chose a man who could never win a popular election in India, where on every second topic we appear to be too proud of our democracy. The economist might ask about the logic of increasing subsidies, when the govt. of the day itself knows that the benefits are not reaching the intended recipients. The lawyer would be thankful to him for giving so much fodder to the PIL machinery.
Whatever they tell you, I doubt, if the history would have much to say about him. For we still need a lot of space for chapters on the Dynasty and some of it for all those who challenged its roots.