Happy Birthday Manmohan Singh: From victim of partition to becoming accidental PM of India, here's a look at his career

Manmohan Singh was also the first prime minister to win reelection following a full five-year tenure since Jawaharlal Nehru.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Sunday, September 25, 2022, 02:47 PM IST
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Happy Birthday Manmohan Singh: From victim of partition to becoming PM of India, here's a look at his career |

Manmohan Singh, an Indian politician, economist, and statesman, was born on September 26, 1932. He served as India's 13th prime minister from 2004 to 2014. After Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, he has served as prime minister for the third-longest period of time. Singh, an Indian National Congress member, served as India's first Sikh prime minister. He was also the first prime minister to win reelection following a full five-year tenure since Jawaharlal Nehru.

Victim of partition who went on to hold imporant roles in Indian govt.

During India's partition in 1947, Singh's family migrated from Gah, West Punjab, in what is now Pakistan, to India. After getting his economics doctorate from Oxford, Singh worked for the UN from 1966 to 1969. When Lalit Narayan Mishra hired him as an advisor at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, he subsequently started his career in government. Singh held a number of important positions in the Indian government during the 1970s and 1980s, including chief economist (1972–1976), governor of the reserve bank (1982–1985), and chairman of the Planning Commission (1985–1987).

On becoming the Finance Minister

Singh was appointed finance minister by P. V. Narasimha Rao, then-prime minister of India, in June 1991. In 2005, Singh spoke with British writer Mark Tully and told, "On the day (Rao) was formulating his cabinet, he sent his Principal Secretary to me saying, 'The PM would like you to become the Minister of Finance'. I didn't take it seriously. He eventually tracked me down the next morning, rather angry, and demanded that I get dressed up and come to Rashtrapati Bhavan for the swearing in. So that's how I started in politics".

First Term as Prime Minister of India

The Indian National Congress defeated the National Democratic Alliance's (NDA) government after the 2004 general elections by winning the most seats in the Lok Sabha as a solo political party. With partners, it established the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and declared its intent to form the government. Technocrat Manmohan Singh was unexpectedly named as the UPA's nominee for prime minister by chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

These included those of the UPA and the external support from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP), Janata Dal (Secular) (JD(S)), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and other minor parties.

Second Term as Prime Minister of India

Between 16 April 2009 and 13 May 2009, India held general elections for the 15th Lok Sabha in five phases. On May 16, 2009, the election results were declared. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was able to form the new government under the leadership of incumbent Prime Minister Singh thanks to strong performances in Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, and Uttar Pradesh. Singh is the first Prime Minister since Jawaharlal Nehru in 1962 to win reelection after serving a full five-year term. 322 out of the 543 House members supported the Congress and its supporters in putting together a solid majority.

The controversy

According to the 2012 report submitted by the CAG to the Indian Parliament, between 2005 and 2009, when Manmohan Singh was the country's coal minister, the nation suffered an estimated loss of Rs. 1.85 trillion (short scale) as a result of the allocation of coal blocks to specific private companies without a competitive process. In April 2013, when one of the members of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) asked Manmohan Singh to appear he declined.

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