Some press conferences are memorable for the quotes one hears, others for the stupidity that overflows from them. But very rarely is a press conference remembered for the sheer helplessness of the protagonist. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s press conference was a classic example of this. No ‘bed of arrows’ like Bheeshma for him (though he tried his best to act as one), because he looked more like the Dhritarashtra who stood blind to wrong deeds around him and, at times, being a happy part of the plundering gang.
Considering this was the last time the PM spoke, one would have thought he would list the achievements of his governments. But sadly, he just stood there empty handed.
Hardly has any government been such a dismal failure that even their most ardent followers have to use just their fingertips to count their plus points. Even Manmohan Singh stops at the US nuclear deal and RTI while counting his achievements. And even these can be questioned, because the process for RTI Act was originally started during NDA rule, and so far one has hardly seen any tangible action post the Indo-US nuclear deal, which was sold to the Indian people as a magic wand that would change everything overnight.
Manmohan Singh has failed in all aspects of governance. In fact, the government seems to be on a long vacation. Decisions, if and when they are taken, are more for the gallery than for the better of the country. This has been the story on FDI and the Lokpal Bill, just two of many other important issues. While one hardly had many expectations from Manmohan Singh on the issue of internal security, a lot more was expected of him on economy, foreign affairs and corruption. And this is where he failed the most.
A lot has been said about the economy and how the story of India died in the last five years, so let’s not waste more space on it. We can all argue figures, but nothing sums up the bad economy better than sentiments in the markets, in living rooms, in tea stalls, on the roads, in the bars and all the places where people converse. Everyone, right from an industrialist to a cart-puller, feels the pinch of the bad economy.
As regards foreign affairs, there is hardly any other regime under which India’s relationship with most countries nose-dived and our self-esteem took such a terrible beating. Imagine being treated with scorn not just by larger countries but by smaller ones like the Maldives too. Be it the Devyani Khobragade case, the Italian marines, Pakistan beheading our soldiers or the Sri Lankan vote, Indian diplomacy has rarely looked so confused and rudderless.
If you were to ask a small child to describe Manmohan Singh’s government in one word, the answer would be quick: corrupt. Never in India’s history has any government been pulled up by courts as many times as this one. For a couple of years it seemed as if the government had no other work except to save its skin in the Supreme Court. If one counts the number of tainted ministers, one can form an entire cabinet. And yet, the prime minister wants to tell the people about how clean he is. This time, his defence was so feeble, it was actually laughable.
A lot more can be said about the failures of this government. Maybe India can recover from the hits it has taken during the UPA regime. But who will be responsible for the wasted years? The answer can only be Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi. While Sonia Gandhi paralysed the governance and killed it with corruption, Manmohan Singh was the silent accomplice. If he wonders what historians will think of him, he should be told that history will remember him as the man who killed India’s story and dragged the country into a whirlpool of corruption and zero-governance. The UPA regime was the period where India found more reasons to hang its head in shame than raise its head with pride.
Jiten Gajaria is Convenor, Social Media Cell, BJP Maharashtra. He is also an entrepreneur and writes on political issues. He tweets @jitengajaria.