India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is definitely not going to have a 'Happy Birthday' when he celebrates his 80th birthday today (Sept 26). Far from happy, Singh can easily be called the man in the eye of the storm after he had announced some landmark economic reforms vis-à-vis FDI in retail, cap in LPG cylinders and the diesel price hike that has created some sizable rifts within the UPA.
Going through one of the most turbulent phases in his political career, Singh has never had it so bad in his decade long career.
From being called underachiever, silent PM and a tragic figure, the PM has received brickbats from foreign shores apart from the oodles of slamming he has got back home. The Opposition and other parties have these days realised that the best way to stay in the media limelight is to launch a verbal tirade against the PM, with Singh reduced to a mere punching bag for the UPA's flaws and policy paralysis.
Having made his mark as an economist par excellence, and his stellar role as Finance Minister that steered India out of a financial crisis in the 1990s, the present day Singh is only a sorry shadow of those days. His silence on most issues has become a butt of all jokes, with names like 'mauni baba' and many other adjectives being attached to this politician.
The recently announced economic reforms was his last ditch effort to save the country from economic meltdown and a move that could take the disillusioned middle class into confidence and bring back some much needed buoyancy in the market through foreign investors.
But in spite of all the setbacks Manmohan Singh had to face in the recent times, the one factor he can be assured is the party's support during the testing times. Even when the PM was held directly responsible for the coal scam that left him scathing, the Congress was firm in their support to the PM no matter what. No wonder he will earn the unique distinction of being the only PM after Jawaharlal Nehru to serve two full 5 year terms in the office, that is, if he manages to sail through the rest of the 18 months in UPA 2.
Among some of the real issues that were specially testing the PM were the slew of scams and controversies that erupted during the UPA's rocky tenure, ally trouble and foreign relation issues. But topmost among all is the frustration of the aam aadmi who has felt let down by the UPA policies and invariably the face of the government is the PM, who had to take in a fair share of the brickbats hurled on the government. The manifestation of the same was felt through the mass campaigns spearheaded by Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, Baba Ramdev and the likes.
With Singh known for his simplistic ways is not known to have a fancy birthday celebration and will be on 'business as usual' mode this time around where he will be seen giving away the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar awards and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) awards on the organisation's 70th Foundation Day function. The PM is the president of CSIR.
As someone intelligent once said, "The best birthdays of all are those that haven't arrived yet." Hope the same applies to PM Manmohan Singh where he will have more reasons to rejoice especially in terms of his political achievements.