This could be Manmohan's last I-Day as PM, what's his thought?

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This could be the final Independence Day for Manmohan Singh as the prime minister of India. The man, who remained at the helm for 10 Independence Days (Only Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi are ahead of him), did not have a smooth sail and never really fulfilled the potential that many had seen in him at the time of taking charge in 2004. At the dusk of his prime ministerial career, what would Singh, the second non-Gandhi to have occupied the top post, tell the countrymen on the eve of the nation's 67th Independence Day?

[Send I-Day Greetings]

OneIndia
imagines Singh's thought for his fellow-countrymen at this moment.

manmohan-singh

My dear countrymen,

This might be my last Independence Day as the prime minister of India. I know that things didn't go as you had expected in the last 10 years but there was no lack of effort on my side. But I had my limitations and always knew that I could not proceed beyond a certain point. There lied my failure.
I have always dreamt about India becoming a economic power and felt a pro-market model would do the job for us.

We have failed to convince other parties on opening up the economy...

My government has tried to open up our markets more for the outer world so that more investments can flow in. But I admit that we have failed to drive the point home and convince other political parties about our idea. There is too much opposition to whatever we try to do on the economic front, be it the foreign direct investment or price hike of petroleum products.

What Narsimha Rao could, I couldn't...

The opposition must understand that we can not survive if we do not connect to the global economy. This is something which late prime minister Narsimha Rao had accomplished even while heading a minority government. But I failed to repeat his act. I admit it to be another failure of mine. My intention has been good but was always misinterpreted and hence misfired.

We have failed to control rising prices...

My government has tried to look after the poor people of the country by starting social schemes like NREGA, direct cash transfer and backing a food security bill. The idea behind these schemes has been to work towards an inclusive governance but I confess that the target was not achieved barring a few years in the beginning of the UPA regime. The food security bill is a noble move but yes, our government has failed to check the soaring prices of food items, which has made the food bill look a sham.

I could not discipline my partymen, too much corruption harmed our govt...

I admit that too much corruption has tainted our government. I never supported this but at the same time, I never had the control over things. I felt the pain deep inside to see how our government was being embarrassed each day by the media and the opposition but too many people were doing too many wrongs at the same time. It is my failure as the prime minister that I could not discipline my own partymen and government officials. But I never had the authority to force things.

I should have contested for a Lok Sabha seat...

I have often been questioned by my conscience that why did I continue at the top if I couldn't make any contribution? My answer is that the party and its leadership banked on me at a time of necessity and I could not betray. But yes, I had made a mistake of not contesting as a Lok Sabha member after becoming the prime minister of India. Having won a Lok Sabha seat, I suppose I could have commanded some more respect from my colleagues, both in the Congress and other parties. It is another failure of mine.

People started to talk about Rahul Gandhi as PM even when I continued...

The question on Rahul Gandhi becoming the prime minister also put myself in a lot of discomfort. I felt pained for my own partymen were busy speaking about Rahulji as the next prime minister even when I did not decide to retire. This showed the trust that my colleagues had on me. I was left alone defending myself in the Parliament in the face of a strong attack from the Opposition. I am grateful to Rahulji that he had at least said that I am still the prime minister of India.

I know that Narendra Modi has done good...

People say India needs a leader like Narendra Modi. I know he has done some good work for his state but an individual style of leadership isn't possible in my party. I have to take into account a lot of things before proceeding on any issue and the growing confusion in the party over various matters have made my job increasingly difficult for me.

On foreign policy...

On the foreign policy matters, I earnestly feel that India should continue to pursue a peace process with Pakistan if we want a safe environment for the next generations. I know there has been barbaric acts from the Pakistani side but we can not dump Islamabad as a measure of revenge. This is something which the next prime minister, whoever it is, will also understand after taking charge. With the Chinese too, we have been working on talks for a better future. I have always stressed rationality in matters of international dealings.

I had fought for the national interest in 2008...

In 2008, you may remember, I had fought against the paranoid Left politicians of India to go for nuclear deal with the USA, even putting the government at risk. I believe in realistic national interests and know that international politics isn't spoken in a populist language.

We could have done much better than what we have achieved. But we lacked an overall will and urgency to accomplish the task. Sonia Gandhi has also shown an genuine intention to better the situation of the countrymen and there was no need to attack her over her foreign origins. But yes, it is ultimately the end result that matters and I admit that the United Progressive Alliance didn't put up a satisfying performance. As the leader of the government, I take the responsibility.

Dr Manmohan Singh
(Prime Minister of India)

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