By delivering the much needed statement on CBI he has strengthened his position further silencing the opposition.
Looking at the number of speeches and media briefs that he delivered this month alone, we can say that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has come a long way. But there is something about the foreign visits or Air India One which has witnessed strong messages from him.
Coming back from China and riding high on the success of his meeting with his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiyang, Singh issued long statements on board Air India One.
Speaking on issues ranging from CBI FIR in Coalgate, his possible interrogation by the agency, upcoming 2014 general elections to the number of corruption cases that have eclipsed his UPA government, he spoke with ease and exuberated confidence while saying that UPA will return for the third time in power.
Just a few weeks ago, coal secretary PC Parakh had alleged that the prime minister was as much responsible as him when his name was included in CBI’s 14th FIR despite the good remarks he gained from CAG for his work. The prime minister remained silent although he was facing the strong opposition remarks.
However, he had maintained throughout the investigation in front of the opposition and public that he has “nothing to hide”. This time too he repeated the same words – “I am not above the law of the land. If there is anything the CBI or, for that matter anybody, wants to ask me, I have nothing to hide”. He added that the clarification issued by the PMO last week on the decision to allocate a coal block to Birla-headed Hindalco in Odisha was appropriate and there was nothing wrong.
The sole responsibility of coal block allocations ultimately falls on his shoulders for the fact that he was incharge of the portfolio at that time. The way PMO had been interfering in CBI’s work and the fact that PM’s name is yet to be included in any of the FIRs is an ample proof of his strong position.
By delivering the much needed statement on CBI he has strengthened his position further silencing the opposition. The marvel of his statements can be attributed to his diplomatic answers given to the journalists on board Air India One.
When he was asked whether the agency should be given so much autonomy that an inspector is able to question his credibility, he nonchalantly answered, “Well, let me say, this matter is before the courts and I would not like to comment on it”.
Also, saying that the decision to allocate a coal block to Hindalco in Odisha was appropriate is technically correct. Even former CAG Vinod Rai, who had patted Parakh on his back for the work, had held the decision appropriate even though his reports revealed massive irregularities in coal allocations and pegged the presumptive loss to the exchequer from it at Rs 1,86 lakh crore.
Undoubtedly, a series of scams in his government and the voices of party members (read Rahul Gandhi) against him has damaged his imaged to an irreversible extent. The public is no more under the spell which says that Singh is an honest figure which was the main plank of UPA for returning to power second time.
The urgency with which Prime Minister has been trying to hold his high image in public may be the reason behind his issuing such statements. Also, the disturbing idea of taking the fall so that the inexperienced Congress scion can take the top position may well be mocking him in his head.
It was very clear by his last statements, which he delivered onboard Air India One when Rahul Gandhi called his government’s ordinance an utter nonsense, that he was a seasoned political player who was thick skinned too. The statements that have come now only consolidate it further.
It became all the more clear when he shot back to a question where it was asked whether CBI cases and scams were casting a shadow on his legacy as Prime Minister, “That is for history to judge. I am doing my duty and will continue to do my duty. What impact my 10 years of prime ministership will have, it is for historians to judge.”