In what yet again reignites and reaffirms the image of former Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh as one of the weakest and most helpless of Prime Ministers in India’s history, former Deputy Chairman of the now-defunct Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia has revealed some incisive details about the infamous Ordinance-trashing episode of 2013.
Embarrassing his own government, Rahul Gandhi, who was then being projected as the future Prime Minister of the country by the Congress, had denounced an Ordinance promulgated by the UPA dispensation at the time.
The Gandhi scion had also termed the Ordinance as “complete nonsense” and had added that it should be “torn up and thrown away”.
The incident had really exposed Manmohan Singh’s precarious position at a time when Sonia Gandhi was seen as the de facto Prime Minister of the country. 10 Janpath was the main power centre of the time- overshadowing and overpowering even 7 RCR.
Montek Singh Ahluwalia has recalled, “I was part of the PM’s delegation in New York and my brother Sanjeev, who had retired from the IAS, telephoned to say he had written a piece that was very critical of the PM. He had emailed it to me and said he hoped I didn’t find it embarrassing.”
Writing in his book ‘Backstage: The Story behind India’s High Growth Years’, Ahluwalia has stated, “The first thing I did was to take the text across to the PM’s suite because I wanted him to hear about it first from me. He read it in silence and, at first, made no comment. Then, he suddenly asked me whether I thought he should resign.”
The Ordinance trashing episode took place at a time when the Congress was looking to launch Rahul Gandhi in a big way. However, a necessary corollary of this incident was demeaning the office of the Prime Minister and causing huge damage to Manmohan Singh’s reputation.
Now, Ahluwalia’s revelations suggest that the then Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh was contemplating resigning from the top office.
However, Ahluwalia claims that he got Manmohan Singh to give the idea of resignation a rethink. According to Ahluwalia, “I thought about it for a while and said I did not think a resignation on this issue was appropriate. I wondered then whether I was simply saying what I thought he would like to hear but on reflection I am convinced I gave him honest advice.”
It is no longer a secret that the Gandhi family meddled in policy making and other affairs of the government. While Manmohan Singh was the face of the government, being the Prime Minister, the Nehru-Gandhi family was running the show.
The controversial National Advisory Council (NAC), a brainchild of the Congress supremo, Sonia Gandhi, wielded significant influence in various sectors under the guise of being an advisory entity.
The fact that PMO had to comply to their whims and fancies eroded the fundamentals of power structure in the capital. NAC bypassed PMO, summoned officers, wrote to ministers, sought compliance on reports and ensured UPA had no choice but to implement their recommendations and be on the same page.
It was in such circumstances that Rahul Gandhi had further demeaned the then Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh over the 2013 Ordinance that allegedly gave immunity to the politicians from any sort of prosecution. PM Manmohan Singh was reduced into a laughing stock.
Now, Ahluwalia’s revelations further reveal Manmohan Singh’s helplessness as a remote-controlled Prime Minister, and the serious tinkering and manipulation of the legitimate power structure in Delhi when the Nehru-Gandhi family was in power for a an entire decade.