Manmohan turns 79 amid crisis all around | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 26, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, September 26, 2011

Manmohan turns 79 amid crisis all around


A series of corruption scandals, a perceived decline in his 'Dr Clean' image, an increasingly belligerent opposition, reports of infighting in his cabinet... Prime Minister Manmohan Singh celebrates his 79th birthday today in a none too happy setting.
There is even talk that he might be shifted to Rashtrapati Bhavan next year.
An eminent economist-turned politician who ushered in the economic reforms in the early 1990s, Manmohan Singh is now widely perceived - particularly by the influential middle class that was once his strongest backers - as the head of a corruption-hit and controversy-ridden government.
Manmohan Singh himself admitted the change in public perception recently. In his interaction with a group of editors June 29, he said: 'In the situation today, day in and day out, I think we are described as the most corrupt government.'
Adding to his problems is the simmering infighting among cabinet colleagues as was revealed by the note indicting Home Minister P Chidambaram in the 2G spectrum allocation sent by the finance ministry headed by Pranab Mukherjee.
Several political analysts agree on the decline of the image of 'Doctor Clean', but Congress leaders say it was 'part of opposition propaganda and media manipulation'.
Mridula Mukherjee, professor in New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University, said there was 'corrosion in the image and effectiveness of Manmohan Singh'.
'I think his tenure as the prime minister of United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-I was his peak time. The series of corruption scandals during UPA-II eroded Manmohan Singh's image too, though he brought the high standards of probity, honesty, integrity and hard work to the PM's post,' Mukherjee told IANS.
She felt that one cannot rule out the speculation that Manmohan Singh may be made president when Pratibha Patil demits office next July. 'That is the only post he may accept or aspire at the age of 80 next year.'
Political analyst N Bhaskar Rao feels that the problem with Manmohan Singh is that 'he is a poor communicator. The prime minister still has not lost his reputation as a good economist and an honest politician.'
History will remember Manmohan Singh more as the finance minister who brought economic reforms with a minimum suffering in the 1990s than as a two-term prime minister, opined Mukherjee.

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