Does India really have a prime minister? Ask this question of yourself. I am sure that your answer will be ambiguous. Of course, India does have one officially. Dr Manmohan Singh is the prime minister of India since May 22, 2004. Who would have expected that an economist will head the nation? May be his destiny and loyalty to the dynasty made Dr Manmohan Singh the prime minister of India. However, despite being the prime minster, his presence in the political arena is hardly felt.
When a number of scams were exposed (and some may still be in the process of being unearthed), I fail to remember any timely strong move from our prime minister and his government. On the contrary, the zero-loss theory was propounded by his cabinet colleague. Moreover, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh invoked 'coalition-dharma' to avert action against the tainted minster A Raja who was involved in the Rs 1.76 lakh crore telecom scam. Thanks to our judiciary, appropriate action is being taken against the individuals involved in the scams.
The consecutive disclosures of scams have put a big question mark on the ability of Dr Manmohan Singh, leave aside the credibility of his government. Dr Singh has been termed as an honest prime minister but when the tax-payers' money was being skimmed off under his nose, the 'honest quality' got disqualified.
It is said that an individual learns through experience, but this principle doesn't seem true of the prime minister. Though Dr Singh has served the country as prime minister for eight years, is he competent enough to lead? Dr Singh, whether in UPA-I or UPA-II, looks the same when seen through the lens of politics and leadership. I wonder what would have been the condition of the UPA without Pranab Mukherjee, especially during its difficult times. Senior Congress leader Mukherjee is more than just a cabinet minister. It will not be inappropriate to say that Mukherjee is the unofficial executive head of India (of course, with the blessings of Sonia Gandhi and her advisory council).
Take the recent issues like the Army chief's age row, irregularities in defence forces or Koondankulam nuclear power plant; the ineptitude is all-pervasive. In addition to this, the delinking of talks (with neighbouring Pakistan) from terror reflected the tactlessness of the UPA government and its head in particular.
The prime minister is the head of the government. He is supposed to lead the nation and address the issues faced by the people. India is being governed by a prime minister who has barely put forth his views on important problems in the public domain. He is termed the 'silent PM' because of his silence on the problems, whether complex or not so complex, faced by our country.
This famous Kashmiri adage seems apt for Dr Singh who finds silence a key to evade any sort of uncomfortable questions Tshop Chaiy Rop Sinz, Karkhai Te Son Sinz (Silence is as good as silver, if practised it is golden).Varad Varenya is a writer/commentator