B. RAMAN has been a bright intelligence officer who even after retirement is held in high esteem in IB circles.
On June 28, the day it was announced in the press that the P.M. would the next day break his maun vrat and meet the media, Rediff.com carried an article by B. Raman which the website described as the author’s sage counsel for Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.
Several excerpts of this article merit reproduction:
The time to say: Here I am. Here I will be. The prime minister of India.
The time to tell the people of India: I have received your message. I understand your anguish over the state of India. I share your concerns over corruption. I realise that it has become the single dominating issue governing the thought process of the nation.
Of what use eight-plus growth rate, of what use my unblemished reputation as a man of integrity, if I am perceived by large sections of the people as heading a government of the corrupt, by the corrupt and for the corrupt. I am determined to see that your anguish is mitigated and that your concerns are addressed in the short time that is still left for me to serve as the prime minister of this great nation.
‘Sonia is not the PM, I am’
If I cannot do that due to circumstances beyond my control, I will quit without a moment’s hesitation. Heavens won’t fall if I cease to be the prime minister. I would rather be an ordinary citizen of this great country than be its effete PM unable to do what he wants to do, unable to do what he ought to do. The time to tell your colleagues in your Cabinet: I am PM so long as I sit in this chair. I shall remain the PM. I will be heard. I will be respected. I will be obeyed. My instructions will be adhered to .Those not willing to do so, better quit the Cabinet. If they don’t, I would not hesitate to drop them from the Cabinet. Time to tell Mrs Sonia Gandhi, president of the Congress party: I may have been nominated by you to sit in this chair. So long as I sit in this chair, I am the prime minister and not you. All governmental authority will flow from me and not from you.
‘I could be reduced to a non-person as it happened to Narsimha Rao’
My voice and my authority will count — and count decisively — in all policy matters affecting the national interest. My first obligation as prime minister is to the people of India. I will listen to their voice and let that voice have its due role in influencing policy-making.
There cannot be two centres of authority. The country cannot afford to have a PM who is seen by the people as no PM. Hereafter, I will either be the effective prime minister or you look for someone else with whom you feel comfortable and who will carry out your wishes.
If I quit, the worst that can happen to me is that I will be reduced to a non-person as it happened to Narasimha Rao. So be it. I will rather go down in history as a non-person, but who was respected by his people rather than as a PM who was laughed at by his people.
‘I do not see my job as keeping the chair warm for Rahul’
Time to tell your colleagues in the Congress: Better stop your campaign to weaken my authority as the prime minister and to project Rahul Gandhi as born to be the PM. I do not see my job only as to keep the chair warm for Rahul.
I see my job as meant to address the needs and concerns of the people of India. So long as I sit in this chair, I will do what the people of this country expect me to do in the interest of the nation and not what you expect me to do in Rahul’s interest. If you are not prepared to accept this, advise Mrs Sonia Gandhi to nominate another PM.
On Wednesday June 29 the Prime Minister met half a dozen select media persons. The first para of the Rediff article has not been quoted above. It runs as follows:
“The time to thump the table has come. Mr. Prime Minister, the time to thump the table has come.”
Dr. Manmohan Singh’s interaction with media persons on Wednesday was one of his rare press conferences in seven years.
It is quite likely that at some point of his conversation he may have followed the first paragraph, and thumped the table. Thumped the table to affirm that all this talk of corruption, drift in governance etc. was media propaganda.
But many in the country who read the Rediff article must have felt sad that the sage advice offered by B. Raman was totally ignored. Otherwise, Wednesday June 29 could have become an unforgettable turning point in the nation’s history, and in Dr. Manmohan Singh’s own political career.
July 1, 2011