Was India's PM Manmohan Singh undermined by own party?
Was the authority of India's PM Manmohan Singh seriously undermined by his own ruling Congress party? Did this contribute to a drift in governance and harm his image?
The prime minister's former media advisor Sanjaya Baru's pointedly-titled new book The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh suggests that his boss messed up an unprecedented second-term in office by acquiescing to his party's dictates; and that his rule swiftly descended into "a tale of missed opportunities, of weak and unfocussed leadership, and a confused foreign policy".
Mr Baru, a former journalist-turned-policy wonk who was picked up for the job personally by Mr Singh in 2004, writes that the famous Delhi diarchy - Mr Singh running the government and Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi looking after the party - failed spectacularly during the government's second term as the party effectively stymied the soft-spoken and taciturn prime minister. "He was defanged bit by bit," he writes about his boss.
Mr Baru writes that Mr Singh's "authority [was] curbed by the nature of power-sharing" between the Congress party president and the PM. "For Congress MPs, the leader to please was always Sonia [Gandhi]. They did not see loyalty to the PM as a political necessity, nor did Dr Singh seek loyalty in the way in which Sonia and her aides sought it."
As evidence, Mr Baru writes that a prominent bureaucrat in Mr Singh's office, "at the behest of Sonia Gandhi, had regular, almost daily meetings with Sonia at which he was said to brief her on the key policy issues of the day and seek her instructions on important files to be cleared by the PM".
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