Prime Minister Manmohan Singh might not have done much to clear the image of his government and the UPA II at his New Year Press Meet,but he sure tried to project his image as that of a person who is clean and unsullied.
He reiterated the fact that he was still the same man he was nine years ago when the UPA I came to power. He underlined the fact that he was the one who called for transparency in spectrum allocation and insisted that coal blocks should be auctioned. So everything happened despite him and his efforts.
The PM also seems to have a fascination for the history books. He kept repeating that the historians would give him a better treatment than what was being meted out to him in the media,and by the Opposition,at the moment. “I am the same person as I was nine years ago. Have served country with utmost dedication and integrity.” “I have done everything to the best of my effort,” he insisted,more than once.
He also shifted a lot of blame. The lack of growth was attributed primarily to international factors,and ‘some’ domestic factors. He accepted the fact that there was price rise,but added that people’s income has also grown with time. In a way suggesting that inflation was not the big deal it was being made out to be.
So was he too silent for a PM? “I have spoken when needed. And will do so in future,” he said in reply to a question. The PM made sure that the world knew that he had held on to his image as a corruption-free politician,and said he had never done anything for personal benefit.
But while trying so hard to hold on to his image,Manmohan Singh also did something that was so uncharacteristic of him. He came up with what has been his and the Congress party’s strongest castigation of Opposition BJP’s PM candidate,saying Narendra Modi as Prime Minister would be a “disaster” for the country. If he was being called a weak PM,Singh took a dig at his rival saying “overseeing riots” in Ahmedabad cannot be construed as a sign of strength for the BJP nominee.
So in a way,Manmohan Singh,in what could well be his last press conference as PM,showed there was another side to this soft spoken man.