When Dr Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister, Amit Shah went to jail in connection with fake encounters. Now, Amit Shah is the Home Minister, the MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) has hit back. Manmohan Singh’s security cover has been downgraded. The SPG cover has been withdrawn. Now, the former PM has only Z+ security! Political vendetta? YES. Witch-hunt? YES.
As far as I know, the SPG Act provides for the SPG cover to the PM in office, all former Prime Ministers and their immediate family members and this cover was being given to Late Atal Bihari Vajpyee till his death by the same Manmohan Singh government.
Dr Manmohan Singh is no run-of-the-mill politician. In fact, I don’t consider him a politician. He is a statesman! It is said that a politician thinks about the next election. A statesman is concerned about the next generation! Manmohan Singh is a great scholar with immense wisdom inside his blue turban. Unlike Narendra Modi, Manmohan never sold tea. Unlike Modi, he never graduated in “entire political science”. And unlike Narendra Modi, Manmohan Singh allows his dear wife to enter his house!
Manmohan Singh taught at the Punjab University for years. Everyone held the erudite professor of economics in awe. Then, he rose to become the Reserve Bank Governor. I still recall currency notes signed by Dr Manmohan Singh in his clear handwriting. In 1991, Narasimha Rao became the Prime Minister of India in the wake of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. India was traumatized. The economy was on ventilator. Rao handpicked the soft-spoken sardar as his Finance Minister. As the FM, Dr Manmohan Singh freed the Indian economy from shackles of the license permit raj.
He ushered in an era of economic liberalisation. The economy breathed in fresh air. Cobwebs of obsolete rules were removed. Rao gave him a free hand and Manmohan introduced bold economic reforms. The FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) poured in and the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) saw dramatic growth.
Dr Manmohan Singh is a silent worker. He avoids limelight and works diligently. Narendra Modi suffers from verbal diarrhoea. He speaks non-stop. Narendra Modi shouts at the top of his voice like a roadside hawker who sells “khatmal maar” medicines!
When in 2004, the Congress returned to power with a bang, Sonia chose Dr Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister. For 10 years, Singh was King. He steered the nation through troubled times. For the poor, he implemented NAREGA (later renamed MANREGA after Mahatma Gandhi). He brought RTI Act and made administration transparent. And he sealed the Indo-US nuclear deal. Communal Ram Bhakts mocked him. Called him “Maun” mohan Singh for speaking little. They forgot that speech is silver, silence is gold.
I have first hand experience of Dr Manmohan Singh’s modesty. In 2005, I was SP, Buxar in Bihar. Dr Singh was the Prime Minister. He called a national conference of SPs at the Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi. I was chosen by the police headquarters to represent Bihar. I told the Prime Minister that on the lines of the National Human Rights Commission, a National Human Duties Commission should also be set up. As the entire Vigyan Bhawan broke into huge applause, the Prime Minister smiled. After the conference was over, we were invited by the Prime Minister to his bungalow at 7, Race Course Road (now renamed as 7, Lok Kalyan Marg) for high tea. He didn’t meet us as the Prime Minister of India. He treated us like a family elder, like a Mausa or a Phoopha, and fed us sandwiches and pastries. Such is his humility. These days when I see “mukhiajis” strutting like peacocks, I recall the humble Prime Minister of India.
By downgrading the security cover of this great scholar, the Chaiwalla & Co have revealed only their small mindedness. Rajiv Gandhi attained martyrdom at the hands of a human bomb when he was a former Prime Minister. If anything untoward happens to Dr Manmohan Singh, history will never forgive the Modi-Shah duo!
(Mr. Amitabh Kumar Das is a 1994 batch IPS Officer. His views are personal.)