The ‘Manmohan’ factor reins in the Congress

November 25, 2010

Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi(L) with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is accused of looking the other way while murky deals were on in the telecom ministry.

He has drawn flak from the opposition and his personal integrity was questioned in what may be India’s largest corruption scandal.

But with few alternatives for his role as a fill-in for the Congress heir apparent, it is no surprise Singh is being stoutly backed by his boss, powerful party chief Sonia Gandhi.

Not having a constituency or political ambitions of his family to nurture, Singh perhaps has little use for the prime minister’s chair and may be tempted to leave it all.

But if not Manmohan Singh, then who?

After all, Singh was such an inspired choice for the prime minister’s post that another nominee may not be able to fill his shoes.

The Congress cupboard seems quite bare if one looks for a face that is nationally known, has political heft and is unquestionably loyal.

Widely perceived as keeping the seat warm for Rahul Gandhi, Singh has an important role in the political scheme of things.

His clean image legitimises Congress rule in the eyes of the middle-class, the group most vocal about corruption, even if less likely to vote.

His sin, if any, may be of omission, not commission.

But because Sonia Gandhi is seen as taking all the major decisions, especially on political management, it seems the PM was left with little room to manoeuvre.

Deciding on allies and their ministries were perhaps not his calls to make.

But his party chief’s rousing defence and the ‘there is no alternative’ factor — all this may mean the PM’s uneasy head may wear the crown longer.

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