Sonia’s photograph coming on all the government advertisements next to Manmohan’s also undermines his authority like nobody else’s. If people thought he would become assertive after the clear mandate of 2009, then they were in for a rude shock.
What was worse was that he appeared subservient even in front of Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, who is a total novice and has zero government experience.3. Worst Parliament session:
By many parameters the Parliament ending in 2014 was the worst ever. The disruptions were unprecedented. The Bills passed were a record low. Business conducted was miniscule.
Then there were things like the pepper spray incident and a ruling government’s own MPs calling for a no confidence motion. It is no surprise that the man who couldn’t even win a Lok Sabha election would preside over the worst Parliament tenure ever.4. Foreign policy doormat:
The Chinese made regular incursions and snubbed us in our face. Pakistan continues to treat us with disdain. US President Barack Obama doesn’t give two hoots to India and Manmohan can’t change that one bit.
Our courts can’t even give the death sentence to Italian marines who came in our waters and shot our own citizens even if we don’t want to. 5. Crushing freedom of speech:
India is low on a lot of freedom indices in the world and Manmohan has watched all that mutely. The Section 66A wreaked havoc in the online world and the Centre and many State governments happily arrested citizens over flimsy grounds.
TV channels got warning letters for just showing BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech! Book banning which had plagued India since Independence was coming to an end under the NDA regime of 1998-2004, but Manmohan’s rule has taken us back to our dark days.6. Populism over prudence:
If there is one trump card that Manmohan had, then it was that he was considered a world class economist. However even that card eventually proved to be a dud in the end.
Manmohan himself lamented that he had no magic wand to fix the economy and that money did not grow on trees. Seriously, is that the best an economist can come up with?
He proved totally spineless and cleared one populist scheme after another showing that in the end not only was he a terrible politician, but a terrible economist too.7. Cash for votes, 2G and Coalgate:
It is not that Manmohan watched helplessly and the scams kept unfolding and he had no control over them. He was directly in the thick of some of them.
The first was the cash for votes scandal of 2008.
If a “humble farmer” like former PM Deve Gowda was at the helm, he could have easily claimed that he didn’t understand the 2G case. But Manmohan is an expert economist and could have easily seen all the irregularities. Yet he let it pass.
Finally when it comes to Coalgate, he himself was the Coal Minister!
8. Defence services lows:
It is quite demoralizing for the Indian Army to see Chinese and Pakistani soldiers cocking a snook at us. Defence Minister AK Antony couldn’t even accept that Pakistani soldiers could do wrong and said “intruders in Pakistani uniform”.
Then there was the date of birth battle with former chief of staff General VK Singh. To make matters worse there were also insinuations of a coup attempt! Finally after sleeping on one rank
one pension for 10 years, they finally announced it with insufficient funds!9. Splitting States badly:
Under our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Statehood demands were violent affairs. Then the Centre became wiser and new States were formed with a clear thought process and care.
However Telangana takes us back to the bad old days. The violence, indecision and dissent all has been simply mind boggling. Has Telangana opened a Pandora’s box? Will new Statehood demands follow a similar violent path?10. National security:
The Ishrat Jahan encounter case was heavily politicized and in an unprecedented move, the IB and CBI were set against each other. The National Investigation Agency has been more hype than anything else.
The Indian Mujahideen has spread its tentacles and one isn’t sure of what havoc it will wreak in the future. And of course Manmohan has been as powerless as any other PM in countering
Pakistan based terror and Naxalism.
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here