The UPA Government has won the trust vote finally, as expected. And BJP played bad losers again as expected J The Left is finally out of the power equation at the Centre and now the Government has no one to blame. It better get started in pushing all the economic reforms that the Left had vetoed.
I like these confidence/no-confidence motions. Though they have their own share of tamasha and hungama and sometimes push us into cynicism, they also reflect the democratic tradition of our country. I have watched Vajpayee win and lose, watched a very bitter Deve Gowda resign and Inder Kumar Gujral win. I could not watch much of this confidence motion though but for the last few hours. This may well be the first time in history that a Prime Minister was not allowed to reply to a confidence/no-confidence motion. Dr. Manmohan Singh had to submit his reply in writing. A very sad state of affairs indeed and it shows how irresponsible the Opposition had been.
I wish to make two quick observations on this occasion and that indeed is the topic of my blog, the interesting story of a ‘weak’ Prime Minister and a ‘foreign’ lady.
Dr. Manmohan Singh has been called the ‘weakest’ Prime Minister of independent India by almost all, vociferously by the Opposition and in hushed tones by some sections of his own party. Yet it was the same visionary man who identified that it is critical for India to achieve its energy security so that the economic reforms that he enunciated 18 years back bear its complete fruits and more importantly in an equitable manner to all of Indians. It took the same ‘weak’ man to negotiate a deal with the powerful country in the world and get most out of the deal. More notably, it took this ‘weakest’ Prime Minister of independent India to put his Government on the block to see this deal through. How many Prime Ministers in the past have stood by their conviction and put their Government at risk on a matter of foreign/domestic policy? Dr. Manmohan Singh changed India’s future (for better, we know now in hindsight) when he ushered in the economic reforms in 1991. He may well have secured the nation to achieve its potential growth to the fullest by backing this deal and see it through. We shall however have to wait for the future to acknowledge his contribution in hindsight.
Now to the ‘foreign’ lady. Dubbed as an Italian who do not much of India, Sonia Gandhi’s performance as the head of the country’s prominent political party is nothing but extraordinary. Except for her faux-pas when she claimed the support of the majority before her no-confidence motion against the Vajpayee Government, she has come up trumps in most of her political challenges. The way she galvanized a disarrayed Congress party before the last general elections, went to the masses, avoided the high-fi ‘India Shining’ type of campaign, toured extensively, campaigned in person, advanced an ‘aam aadmi’ agenda shows that she understands the pulse of India. It took this newcomer to Indian politics to realize that the Congress cannot form a Government on its own in the near future and have to depend on coalitions and learn to work with the regional parties. Her major coup was when she refused the post of Prime Ministership. Nothing prevented her constitutionally to become the Prime Minister and she had just led her party to become the single largest party in the Parliament, which meant she had the popular vote. Yet she decided not to become the Prime Minister. I do not see this an act of sacrifice or something of that sort, but certainly one should admit that it is one of the most effective strategic moves in recent political history. At one stroke, she silenced her critics, improved her stature among her own party and presented herself to the people as someone who is not behind power!! I recently read an article that talked of how we Indians value ‘sacrifice’ or ‘giving up’ as an important value. But, it took a ‘foreigner’ to understand this and leverage from this fact.
I also support the novel arrangement between Sonia and Dr.Singh that has also come into criticism. I think it is perfectly fine to have the leader of the ruling party advising the Government, in fact the Leader of Opposition should also be doing that! The Prime Minister’s office is the Executive and the UPA Chairperson has a Legislative function. By this novel arrangement, Sonia was left to handle the political issues of dealing with the coalition and Dr.Singh was left to handle the Prime Ministerial job.
The ‘weakest’ Prime Minister and the ‘foreign’ lady have yet again come up trumps. And as the gtalk tagline of one of my friends claim Singh is indeed King today!!