The irony is stark. The tenure of an acclaimed economist has seen galloping inflation running over the aam admi on whose shoulders his government came to power. Even while the mandatory references are made to his honesty and integrity, corruption has reached stratospheric levels while his party and government bury their heads in the hand and shortcircuit the Lokpal bill by seeking to keep the prime minister’s office out of it.
Now, while Congressmen with an ear to 10, Janpath light a fuse under his chair by announcing the readiness of Rahul Gandhi to take over, and others are bugging the offices of other pretenders to the throne, the battered and beleaguered PM is set to met the media scrum tomorrow, his third such interaction in 13 months since May 2010, after a national press conference and a meeting with print editors, followed by a pow-wow with the TV types.
What Manmohan seeks to achieve is clear—to convey to the nation that he is in charge, that he is doing his damnedest to put an end to all the troubles, and to show that reports of his prime ministerial death in the 20th year of reforms are grossly exaggerated. Underlying all this is the notion that the solution to the problems ailing him and his government magically lies not in meeting the aspirations of the people, but in meeting the media.
But as with all such gatherings, the PM will only be addressing “select” editors, each of whom will only be allowed to ask one question (no supplementaries, please), which means any attempt to pin him down will be impossible. Result: the prime minister who has a face for the radio, will reel out his answers in his trademark deadpan, monotonous manner that is unlikely to set the Yamuna on fire.
What is the one question the gentlemen of the media should ask Manmohan Singh because “the nation wants to know”?
Illustration: courtesy Xavi/ Toon Pool