Demonetisation debate: When Manmohan Singh speaks, why the nation listens

For the last few days, Congress strategists have been thinking of different ways to outwit the aggressive BJP government on its demonetisation drive.

Written by Manoj CG | Updated: November 24, 2016 5:04 pm
demonetisation, manmohan singh, manmohan singh demonetisation, Parliament, Manmohan singh parliament, winter session, winter session demonetisation, congress, congress demonetisation, parliament demonetisation, cash crunch, old Rs 500 note, new Rs 2000 note, rajya sabha, parliament, congress, narendra modi, modi, demonetisation debates, india news, indian express news Former prime minister Manmohan Singh during the demonetisation debate. (Source: ANI)

It was an unusual moment in the Rajya Sabha. Dr Manmohan Singh rose to speak: “Monumental mismanagement has been undertaken in implementation of demonetisation”, he said in a soft but firm voice and went on to condemn the move in no uncertain terms: “It is a case of organised loot, legalised plunder of the common people.”

 

When was the last time the former prime minister who attends Parliament almost every day but chooses to remain silent, spoke in the Rajya Sabha? One will have to jog one’s memory to recall the occasion. It isn’t that he hasn’t spoken at all. He spoke in the last session of Parliament in support of a private member’s bill moved by a Congress member from Andhra Pradesh seeking a special package for the state which is yet to emerge from the scars of the bifurcation. But other than that he has remained a front bencher in the Rajya Sabha, present but largely silent.

WATCH VIDEO: Former PM Dr Manmohan Singh Says Demonetisation Will Hit Growth

For the last few days, Congress strategists have been thinking of different ways to outwit the aggressive BJP government on its demonetisation drive. And one of the ideas was to field Dr Singh. They thought of asking him to issue a statement first and then zeroed in on the need for him to speak on the grand stage of Parliament. And Dr Singh spoke out strongly against demonetisation and its impact on the economy. “This will hurt agriculture, small industry and everyone in the unorganised sector. My view is that GDP growth can fall by 2 per cent and that is an underestimate,” said the former prime minister this morning in the Rajya Sabha.

His condemnation of the move, the government and the RBI carries a lot of weight with almost everyone. The reasons are quite simple. He is among the handful of Congress leaders who still enjoys maximum credibility and can boast of financial integrity – attributes Prime Minister Narendra Modi often showcases as his strength.

Singh also has unparalleled credibility among the front-ranking Opposition figures and carries tremendous weight as an economist. He was RBI governor between 1982 to 1985 and his legacy as the finance minister who ushered in economic reforms in the 1990s and his economic acumen in steering the country out of global slowdown in the first decade of this century, is still fresh in everyone’s memory and earns him considerable respect.

So when he speaks on economic issues in particular, people listen and his views are taken very seriously not just by the government and the elite corporate world but by the middle class which many believe has approved of the unprecedented scrapping of high denomination notes — a move which is being projected by the government as a game changer reform step. “It is no good that everyday the banking system comes with modification of the rules, the conditions under which the people can withdraw money. That reflects very poorly on the Prime Minister’s office, on the Finance Minister’s office and on the Reserve Bank of India,” he said.

Singh was once the darling of the same middle class which drifted away from the Congress in 2014, triggering its collapse. Although he is a man of few words, the Congress knows the world will listen to him when he speaks, especially when it is so rarely.

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First Published on: November 24, 2016 2:03 pm
  1. A
    Anil Kumar Singh
    Nov 25, 2016 at 8:57 am
    Wish he could speak as PM. Then he only referred to his coalition dharma and became blind to all corrupt practices under his nose. Unfortunately a caliber like him got wasted in wrong party. Yes, given his wisdom he should be listened to but again he only spoke the language of his mentor and none of his own......He should be fortunate that despite calling a major step by government "loot" the treasury benches accorded him full respect. I term him as a "Kalam" in wrong company..........
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    1. I
      indian
      Nov 24, 2016 at 1:21 pm
      So even on such an important issue, he only spoke when his masters told him to. Typical MMS. Does he have a practical suggestion to offer? No. At least Mr. Modi is trying to curb black money and corruption. What did Mr. Singh do in his tenure when his ministers were looting the country dry under his nose? Zero.
      Reply
      1. B
        Barb Dewyre
        Nov 24, 2016 at 12:35 pm
        To all of Manmohan Singh's detractors, I would advise "Please listen".
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        1. N
          NitinB
          Nov 24, 2016 at 9:53 am
          Catholic Express and Ummah Miyans definitely take the puppet seriously., Hindus know better
          Reply
          1. C
            Chetan
            Nov 24, 2016 at 8:49 am
            Why will nation listen to a man however great he is when he is manited by remote control of Italian Make...
            Reply
            1. I
              Indian
              Nov 24, 2016 at 12:34 pm
              Dignity intelligence and grace. Salute to Manmohan singh.
              Reply
              1. J
                Jim
                Nov 25, 2016 at 8:01 am
                He speaks his maam"s and her brats voice. That's the only problem
                Reply
                1. J
                  Jogi
                  Nov 24, 2016 at 7:04 pm
                  Because of great Manmohan Singh Ji people of India enjo many years now Modi taking them to Vedic Ages.
                  Reply
                  1. M
                    Misra
                    Nov 24, 2016 at 1:47 pm
                    Modi is no match to Manmohan singh in economy's knowledge as well as integrity. Modi works at the behest of his masters like Adani , ambani,
                    Reply
                    1. M
                      Misra
                      Nov 24, 2016 at 1:45 pm
                      There was once a doctor Modi who in an attempt to cure headache ended up paralyzing the patient, cut off his limbs, made the patient lose his eye sight. The doctor Modi called his attempt as a success.
                      Reply
                      1. M
                        Misra
                        Nov 24, 2016 at 2:22 pm
                        From modi to Mandi(slowdown)....
                        Reply
                        1. K
                          Kavi
                          Nov 25, 2016 at 7:25 am
                          Only the corrupt paid mainstream media, terrorists, and criminals listen to this shameless man, who bartered his economist qualifications to become the slave dog of the Italian mafia lady. He is the spokesperson and mask for these thieves and criminals. People do not listen to him. People are angry with this man, because he facilitated and was part of the gang that looted 2G, Coalgate, CWG, National Herald, Augutha, etc.
                          Reply
                          1. K
                            kumar
                            Nov 24, 2016 at 4:06 pm
                            World will listen when maun mohan speaks? What a joke? He presided over the biggest loot and was responsible for a very big portion of the black money in this country. He abdicated responsibility and acted as a puppet
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                            1. P
                              Pat
                              Nov 24, 2016 at 8:19 pm
                              Manmohan never worked for india just for the safed woman and Ianti india party Congress , this shameless white complexed sardar, ignored common man and the enemy attacks on our soil. We will overcome the hurdles of demonitization if government it executes well and looks into public safety too.
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                              1. R
                                Rahul Sharma
                                Nov 24, 2016 at 7:37 pm
                                That makes me wish..minimum qualification of a PM should be a PhD.
                                Reply
                                1. S
                                  Saurabh
                                  Nov 24, 2016 at 6:20 pm
                                  When Karan Thapar interviewed on live TV, Modi was asking for "water" and run away from live TV debate.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;If Economist , Two time PM, one time Finance Minister, Graduation from Cambridge ManMohan Singh questions/live demonstration on Demonetisation to one on one to Modi at Parliament then I'm sure Modi will ask for "quarter"
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                                    Abhishek
                                    Nov 24, 2016 at 8:58 am
                                    His few decisions are manited but not all. He is one of the best and respectable person. India grows under his shadow for so many years
                                    Reply
                                    1. A
                                      Adarsh
                                      Nov 24, 2016 at 8:03 pm
                                      When MMS speaks he only speak truth but when Modi does same he never speak truth.
                                      Reply
                                      1. A
                                        Ajay Gupta
                                        Nov 25, 2016 at 7:52 am
                                        The author is living in a fool's paradise. Nobody is interested in MMS
                                        Reply
                                        1. A
                                          Ajit Das
                                          Nov 24, 2016 at 10:48 am
                                          His words sound ominous for our economy. The ruling dispensation should listen to what he has said and take corrective steps to come out of the mess created by 'monumental mismanagement' of the present drive of demonetisation.
                                          Reply
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                                            Alab
                                            Nov 24, 2016 at 10:48 am
                                            I would have expected Dr Singh to have talked like an Economist rather than a politician. He should have brought Morecambe ideas on the table rather than unsubstantiated statements of general nature. He could have triggered a meaningful debate. Sad that he preferred loyalty to reality. He could have been scholarly and could have added a lot of value. Sad to say, he has disappointd many.
                                            Reply
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