I am torn between contempt and pity for the small man that Dr Manmohan Singh is. Does the man have no shame? Do guts? No spine? Apparently there’s nothing in him that is of any value. He traded in his integrity — that is if he had any to start off with — to become the appointed prime minister. But he could have grown a backbone and redeemed himself. If not for himself, at least for the sake of the clan to which he belong, the proud fearless warrior clan of Sikhs.
I have repeatedly called him a despicably dishonest man” on this blog. But never mind my blog. How about recognized columnists in major newspapers? Columnist after columnist, commentator after commentator, bloggers after bloggers have used rivers of ink (or perhaps zillions of electrons zipping around on silicon chips) to write about his utter failure as a prime minister, nay, his utter failure as a human being. And yet the man remains unmoved.
Ashok Mitra laments for a cog in the machinery of the GREAT RENOUNCER and asks, “Does the prime minister matter?” in The Telegraph, Calcutta India.
Is it not egregiously irrelevant in such a situation to wax eloquent over the prime minister’s integrity? For consider the goings-on during the 2G spectrum episode. Were nothing known of the prime minister’s correspondence with his minister as well as of the Radia tapes, two alternative assumptions are still possible: either that the prime minister was aware of the irregularities that were being plotted but was unable to do anything about it, or that he was totally ignorant of what was happening.
In case the prime minister knew that large scale larceny was taking place within the portals of government, the natural question to ask is, why did he not put his foot down instead of accepting the developments philosophically — in other words, why did he agree to go along with corruption? Is he not, technically, an accessory after the fact? Cross over to the second hypothesis: while the prime minister was a man of first-class integrity, he was not aware of the shady things happening within his premises. If a prime minister does not know what is transpiring within the ambit of his authority, does it not reflect on his efficiency and, therefore, his suitability for occupying the position?
It was, after all, the personal decision of the individual who is prime minister to accept the position in full awareness of the overwhelmingly important conditionality attached, namely, that he must abide the preferences, prejudices and inclinations of the Great Renouncer. If the prime minister is feeling humiliated by the snide comments swirling at this moment around his person, he can only lay the blame at the door of the decision he took in 2004 to be a cog in the dynasty’s wheel. It is for him to ruminate whether tending his private garden would not have been a superior choice.
While there’s life, there’s hope. A man always has a chance. A man can resign and beg for forgiveness for the mistakes he made. But Dr Singh can’t. Only a man can, not a cog in some stupid wheel. So rather than contempt, I lean towards pity for him.