Kajal Chaterjee

Despite deluge of "lip service" to the former Prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on his last day in Parliament by overriding "ideological differences", the fact remains that the Who's Who of the BJP had relentlessly stooped to the level of personal abuse and character-assassination of him on the slightest pretext! The nation hasn't forgotten how Dr. Singh was obscenely "credited" with the "art" of "bathing in a bathroom with a raincoat on" right upon the floor of Rajya Sabha! 


 One holds every democratic right to dislike Dr.Manmohan Singh as a politician, leader or Prime minister(when he was at the helm)! One may dislike his policies which he had undertaken, be it economic or nuclear! So there lies nothing wrong in criticising him through furnishing of logic and sane arguments.  But it was astonishing to see how his critics, be they common people or Who's Who of BJP, used to abuse him the most by mocking him as "Maunmohan" invoking his relative silence or soft-spoken behaviour! Is uttering rhetoric in the shrillest possible voice at the drop of a hat in public and taunting, abusing, ridiculing the opposition form the main job of a Prime minister! Is tom-tomming his/her "achievements"(real or projected) relentlessly in all forums possible form the main job of a Prime minister! Rather any sensible Prime minister would silently work behind closed doors or camera in his/her office leaving his contribution to talk for himself/herself ! And Manmohan Singh used to do this very thing with exceptional dignified silence befitting the Chair of the Prime Minister. When it should have been seen as a positive attribute of Singh as PM, this very quality of remaining "Maun" acted as his political nemesis! 


 Very rightly had he asserted after relinquishing the office --- "Discharging my responsibilities as Prime Minister for 10 years, I let my work speak instead of speaking out myself. I never divided the country for political gains; never tried to hide the truth and never lowered the dignity of the post. Despite the challenges, I always raised the prestige of India and Indians on the international stage". 


Communalism, casteism, racism, riots, "honour killings" and all other sins were obviously prevalent then. But certainly the picture of that era was not as dreadful as today and most importantly not a single prominent personality was found to be encouraging/instigating the mischief makers or defending their indefensible acts. In contrast, today those in power are found to garland the "cow-vigilantes" alleged to kill innocents or instigate their followers to shower bullets ('Goli Maaro') upon peaceful demonstrators opposing CAA ! If somebody invokes 'Shamshan-Kabristan', another calls for "revenge" against ... ! No, the Manmohan Singh era didn't see such a harvest of poison and so India used to get spared from criticism, rebuke and unsolicited advice by the international community unlike today. 


 Not only did Singh used to stay at the farthest distance from communalism, his government's record in the front of moral cleanliness is also extraordinary. Though a lot of financial allegations were levelled against Manmohan Singh government, not a single allegation has been proved. Rather many accused got absolute clean chit by the judiciary. And far from hiding the truth, Singh used to order his Cabinet colleagues to resign just on the basis of allegations, even if the main accusation is against any nephew of the minister concerned ! 


Manmohan Singh was indeed "weak"; perhaps this is the reason why series after series of fatal terrorist attacks had happened only after the end of his era --- Uri Gurdaspur Pathankot Pulwama with the Chinese killing 20 of our soldiers in Ladakh ! 


 Though I didn't like his policy (as Finance minister of PV Narasimha Rao government) of "economic liberalisation" which had  widened the rich-poor gap to a dreadful extent and dealt a fatal blow upon the poor and lower middle class(with upper middle class laughing all the way to the bank); but I will definitely praise the Prime minister in Singh, who had played a major role in bringing various social welfare schemes revolving Food security, poverty alleviation, education, government transparency, Land Acquisition or Forest Rights. And as far as civility,  honesty , dignity, humility are concerned, Singh is almost unparalleled.


 So Manmohan Singh, the supremely dignified person of impeccable secularism, deserves a warm salute. May more and more such "MAUN" leaders take the charge of this nation for the sake of the Constitution, secularism, democratic ethos, humanity, humility, civility, simplicity and that remains the earnest prayer of all true sensible Indians. 


History will indeed be kinder to Dr.Manmohan Singh than the media; provided neutral historians are allowed to have their say or publish their work .



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