Four years ago, in 2009, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh got a thumbs up when the middle classes and rural India voted the UPA Government back to power. Even the taint of the cash-for-votes scam of 2008 did not appear to stick -- the MNREGA and farmer loans had apparently eased the people’s burden. Singh was hailed as the King.
But the euphoria of the second win was short-lived. Soon after, the slide started with Sharm el-Sheikh statement fiasco, where Singh was criticised by many for giving too much allowance to Pakistan; then UPA-II was hit by one scandal after the other. From the 2G spectrum scandal, CWG scam, coal scam to railgate and defencegate, it became a 'scam-a-month' government.
Amidst all, rose Anna Hazare and the nation appeared to have found a crusader in him.
The strains of public awakening lingered in the air, as once again, protests broke out throughout the country, following the shameful rape of a 23-year-old Delhi girl in a bus December last.
The economist PM’s government was also given a new tag of ‘policy paralysis’ and blamed for the high inflation and economic crisis. Foreign media too shunned him as an ‘underachiever’. But his authority within the government hit the lowest when two ministers close to him, Ashwani Kumar and Pawan Kumar Bansal, were made to go.
He could deliver little on his self-identified focus areas -- foreign policy and education.
Nonetheless, an ageing Singh kept the rumour mills alive by not ruling out a third term for himself in the event of the UPA-III coming to power. This, despite the departure of two key UPA allies, the TMC and DMK, from his government.
Even the game-changing ideas and legislation appeared to be drowned in newer controversies. The UPA Government, meanwhile, tried to regain some of its lost political ground with the hanging of terror attack convicts Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru. It is now hard to put in place two pieces of game-changing legislation -- Food Security and Land Acquisition Bills -- before it goes to poll.