Manmohan Reduced to a Shadow PM - The New Indian Express

Manmohan Reduced to a Shadow PM

Published: 06th April 2014 07:47 AM

Last Updated: 06th April 2014 11:07 AM

Largely absent from the Congress posters and reduced to a stamp-size presence in the party manifesto, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s involvement with this election has been rather tenuous. Not more than 8-10 rallies for him, scheduled after much dilly-dallying, in ‘the second phase’ of the 2014 battle.

The PM, in fact, will be addressing his second election rally in Kochi this Sunday, three days before Kerala casts its vote for 2014 elections on April 10. More to set the record straight on the performance of government, which he feels has been the “victim of propaganda’’, than anything else.

What has upset the PM is some of his party colleagues have also fallen for “the calculated opposition strategy of vilification’’, says a close aide of Singh. Not that he has himself done much to counter the charges. Till now, the PM has addressed only one rally in Sivasagar, Upper Assam where six seats go to polls in the first phase, April 7.

Singh’s next rally is likely to be in Uttar Pradesh-the battle-ground state where rival BJP is trying out everything to win at least half of the 80 seats.  Said the Singh aide, PM has requests from both eastern and western UP. Ten of the western UP seats will be voting, like Kerala, in the second phase, so his rally could be somewhere in the middle.

“We have as many as 35 requests from various states and candidates for PM. There’s no dearth of demand,’’ Singh’s office told The Sunday Standard, implying that he is keeping a low profile.

Compared to Singh’s less than a dozen rallies that have been lined up, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi have been heli-hopping across the country and will addressing 160 more rallies, 100 for Rahul and 60 for Sonia Gandhi.

At 81, the PM has to be choosy, says an aide. That was by way of explaining why in this chaotic election season where the Congress seems to be fighting not just the parliamentary seats but also negative perceptions, the PM has been missing in action.

There’s no denying that the underlining theme of this election is the 10-year rule of Manmohan Singh that is what is up for scrutiny of the political opponent and even his own party’s strategists and senior MPs, like P C Chacko and Jairam Ramesh.

The PM, it seems, was keen to go to Kerala and just as he insisted on beginning his campaign trail from Assam which he represents in Rajya Sabha.

He will also be addressing rallies in Punjab, where the party is convinced that there’s underlying anti-Akali government sentiment and slated to go to Haryana, Rajasthan and Goa.

Manmohan Not Face of Congress

Congress strategist point out Singh has never been the political face of the party. But in 2009 he was the star, it was projected that  he would continue as the PM and many believe he won them the elections. But now, he’s more of a liability than an asset for the party, a Congress general secretary said.


Economist Singh once hailed as the panacea for all financial troubles faced by the country and one of its longest serving Prime Minister, may now be remembered as the one who passed the baton to the next in line even while in office, making him appear as head of a caretaker government.

Despite tensions within, the PM rallies are part of the Congress party strategy to use whatever ammunition is there in these hard times when it is seen as the losing side. Senior leaders of the party who are not contesting, P Chidambaram, Digvijaya Singh, Janardan Dwivedi, Ghulam Nabi Azad (once his own constituency goes to poll), Oscar Fernandes too have been asked to chip in with rallies and road-shows.

Worse comes to worse, Priyanka Gandhi will be made to come out of Rae Bareli and Amethi to address a few rallies in UP and if not elsewhere. But nothing would be done that would overshadow Rahul Gandhi’s effort-whether it works or not.

Thus PM will be there campaigning, but in a restricted form.


Also Read:

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PM May Shift to Retirement Bungalow Before Poll Results  

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