The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference.
Do you remember the time when LK Advani called Manmohan Singh as the weakest Prime Minister we ever had? Do you remember the outrage in the circles of the usual suspects? Do you remember the sympathy wave generated in the TV studios because the then Leader of Opposition called the Prime Minister as the weakest head of the country?
Now, let’s come to the present day situation. Yesterday, the Interim Railway Budget was presented in Parliament. MPs from the Seemandhra region were seen rushing into the well of the House protesting against Sonia Gandhi’s decision to split Andhra Pradesh. Yesterday, while the Railway Budget was being presented in the Lok Sabha, four Union Ministers joined the protests too. One of them was the Union Minister of State for Railways! The Government’s own Minister was protesting against the decision of his own party, at the exact same time when the budget of his own department was being tabled – can it really get any worse than this?
What does the Prime Minister have to say about this? “My heart bleeds”. That’s it – all he had to say was “My heart bleeds”. Few moments later, another Minister in his own Cabinet says that the comment is “unfair”. Are these the traits of a “strong” Prime Minister? Has he even bothered to make an attempt to arrive at a truce with the warring Ministers? Does he even care that the institution of Parliament has been under threat because of behaviour of his own party MPs? One would expect a “strong” Prime Minister to be decisive under such trying circumstances – but here we have Dr Manmohan Singh whose only response is – “My heart bleeds”.
From the past two years, many working days of Parliament were lost because MPs from the Congress had disrupted the House to no end. We even had to witness the spectacle of the Congress recommending the suspension of its own members from Parliament (9 MPs from Telangana region were suspended). In the last two Sessions, all we have seen is disruptions by the Prime Minister’s Cabinet or his party members – and what does he have to offer? “My heart bleeds”.
The acrimony and the vitriol in Andhra Pradesh has to be seen to be believed. Not a single concerted effort was made by the Prime Minister to resolve this issue. And to top this all, this Prime Minister arranges for lunch meetings with Opposition leaders at the last minute trying to resolve the logjam over Telangana in Parliament. In this meeting, Kamalnath had the gall to question Advani and others to come clean on whether their support on the AP Reorganisation Bill is unconditional or not. Their own house is in utter chaos and they ask the Opposition for clarity – is this the trait of a “strong” Prime Minister? Local newspapers have reported that Advani told the PM that the nation’s heart is bleeding because of the games that Congress is playing. If true, Advani is again spot on.
The Government wanted to introduce the Bill in Rajya Sabha first. It took a TDP MP to tell the Government that this is a money Bill and therefore, cannot be introduced in the Rajya Sabha first. What kind of preparation is this Government doing? One would definitely expect that a “strong” Prime Minister would take care of such things and be more meticulous in planning. This is not an isolated instance of the PM not being in control, but since the focus is on the splitting up of Andhra Pradesh now, I am not getting into the other specifics.
Meanwhile, in Andhra Pradesh, the Chief Minister continues his hide and seek game of resignation. Newspapers continue to speculate on when he will resign. The APCC chief says resignations at this juncture would not mean anything – they should have all resigned in August itself. Lakhs of Government employees are again on strike. It is 9:50 am at the time of writing this article. The Lok Sabha business schedule does not include the introduction of the AP Reorganisation Bill. It is still unclear as to when the Bill will even come into Parliament – this behaviour is consistent with what the Congress has been doing all along – provide zero clarity on anything related to the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.