Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, working virtually round the clock
with the minimum of sleep, has followed up the reshuffle of his
cabinet with crucial policy decisions in the past few days to
revamp the image of the 26-month-old United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-II
government that has been battered by a series of corruption
scandals, his close aides and Congress leaders say.
"Dr. Singh is very active... after the cabinet reshuffle (July
12), he has taken several important decisions refuting all
criticism of the so-called policy paralysis," a close aide of
Manmohan Singh told IANS.
He said Manmohan Singh, 78, is all prepared - mentally and
psychologically - to face the crucial monsoon session of the
parliament beginning Monday.
The approval of the draft Lokpal bill, the release of the draft
land acquisition bill, preliminary approval for foreign direct
investment in retail are important decisions taken recently,
another official said.
In a major gesture to the opposition, the government appointed
Bihar Finance Minister Sushil Modi (who belongs to the BJP) as the
chairman of the empowered committee of state finance minister's, a
Congress leader pointed out.
According to the prime minister's aide, the quick acceptance of
the resignation of Gurudas Kamat as the minister of state for
drinking water and solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam were
examples of Manmohan Singh's "recent decisiveness".
"Criticism does not deter Manmohan Singh. For him it is work and
more work that answers all criticism," said another senior
official, pointing out he cannot recall Manmohan Singh taking a
break or going on a holiday in recent years.
"I have been working 24 hours a day. I spend 18 hours a day on
work - without any holidays," Manmohan Singh said during an
interaction with a group editors here June 29.
Congress leader Mohan Prakash said the impression that the UPA and
the government are weakening was incorrect. The recent assembly
polls had proven this, he added.
Prakash told IANS: "There are several prophets of doom, who say
the government is weak and the leadership is divided. Soniaji
(Congress president Sonia Gandhi) has clearly backed the prime
minister on several occasions recently."
"Speculation, rumour mongering and day dreaming of a Congress
collapse have been the style and strategy of some of the
opposition parties," Prakash added.
Kochi-based political analyst K. Sreekumar feels the critical
crisis of the government is over. "Still there is some goodwill
left for the government."
Sreekumar feels the bills on land acquisition and food security
can save the UPA government.
"While Sonia Gandhi could drive UPA-I though the rural job
guarantee scheme (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment
Gurantee Scheme), the Rahul Gandhi-championed land bill will give
confidence to the rural people who make up 70 percent of the
population," he added.
And Manmohan Singh has been there to lead both the governments, he
But the opposition says nothing can save the scam-tainted
"Manmohan Singh will be remembered as one who became prime
minister by default. And he will go down in history for his faults
- for the several commissions (of scams) and many more omissions,"
Javed Raza, general secretary of the Janata Dal-United, told IANS.
"The middle class, the intelligentsia and the youth, who were the
staunchest admirers of Manmohan Singh, have turned against him and
his willful silence to the scams," Raza added.
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