Editorial: Dr Manmohan Singh’s Calm Words Resound

Editorial: Dr Manmohan Singh’s Calm Words Resound

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Friday, May 31, 2024, 11:15 PM IST
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Dr Manmohan Singh | File Photo

Former Prime Minister and among the world’s most respected economists, Dr Manmohan Singh, is not given to loquaciousness. In fact, he has been ridiculed by political opponents including his successor Narendra Modi for being silent. When Dr Singh breaks his studied silence, he has done so with a purpose which is easy to forget given the daily pronouncements that have become the norm in the decade since he left office. In a rare letter to voters in Punjab, who will cast their ballot on June 1, Dr Singh chose to return Mr Modi’s compliments with compounded interest. It is one for the history books.

Dr Singh defended himself from Mr Modi’s charge — malicious and dangerous — that he had stated that Muslims of India had the first right on the country’s resources before taking on his successor on the state of the economy. “He has also attributed some false statements to me. I have never in my life singled out one community…That is the sole copyright of the BJP,” Dr Singh wrote before calling out Mr Modi for indulging in “the most vicious form of hate speeches that are purely divisive in nature”. Given the preponderance of farmers in Punjab, Dr Singh called out his successor's policies as having eroded farmers’ earnings and noted that “the nation's economy has witnessed unimaginable turmoil” with a series of flawed decisions.

It would be facile to dismiss Dr Singh as yesterday’s giant whose opinions and words do not have a place in the ‘New India’ that Mr Modi claims to have built but it would also be foolish to do so. His is the voice of sobriety and sanity, reason and rationale. While it is true that his words come at the fag end of an extremely polarising campaign by the BJP, they are words which hold considerable value. They have laid the record straight on the dangerous canard about Muslims having first right on resources attributed to him but, more significantly, they hold a mirror to Prime Minister Modi, who as his party’s star campaigner covering a record number of rallies around the country, chose to hit out at Dr Singh, the Congress party, Muslims and other minorities instead of seeking votes on the back of his government's achievements. His predecessor’s calm words should show the third-time-PM-hopeful that it does not behove his office or stature to talk cheaply or lie. If only he would learn from an elder statesman.

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