Are Manmohan Singh's return flights from abroad cursed?

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Does Manmohan Singh's returning flights from abroad have a peculiar connection with snowballing crises back home? History says so. Since June 2012, we have had four instances where the prime minister of India had to answer questions on domestic political threats to him and his government, sometimes from the opposition, sometimes from allies and sometimes from his own party leadership!

Instance 1 (June 2012):

While returning from a couple of summits in Mexico and Brazil in June 2012, Prime Minister Singh was asked questions about the threat that the Trinamool Congress (TMC), then an ally in the second United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, had posed to the government. The TMC, which was the second largest ally in the UPA, had a disturbed relation with the senior party over issues like economic reforms and financial package.

The relation between the two parties had gone to the extremes ahead of the presidential election with TMC chief and West Bengal Chief Minister refusing to back UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee. What embarrassed the Congress more was Banerjee's floating the name of Prime Minister Singh as a presidential nominee.

MMS faces uncomfortable questions on domestic politics on every return flight

She tried to gang-up with Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav to corner the Congress but Yadav's cunning U-turn at the last moment ruined Banerjee's plans. The Congress got a relief for the time being but for Singh answering journalists on the flight back him, it was a worrying moment. He kept on hoping that the TMC would not sing to a different tune.

Instance 2 (September 2012):

Prime Minister Singh was on his way back from the Non-Alignment Movement in Iran last year when he was asked about the massive fallout in the domestic politics over the coal allocation scam.

Talking to newsmen on board of a special flight, Singh asked why should he resign in response to the BJP's demand? He asked the opposition party to honour the popular mandate and said if he had to resign, he wouldn't be on that plane. He criticised the opposition for not allowing the Parliament to function by routinely stalling it. The Monsoon Session of the Parliament was virtually washed out that year.

Instance 3 (September 2013):

Singh was enroute to India from Russia where he had gone to attend the G-20 Summit when he was asked question again on the coal scam. The questions were important for he had left the country amid a big ruckus in the Parliament over the missing files of the coal scam and the Opposition was after his head. Singh tried both a hard and soft defence in the parliament before leaving for Russia.

When asked whether he had sufficiently answered the Opposition's questions on the scam, Singh said he has always been forthright and remained an "open book" throughout his life. He also said on that occasion that he would be happy to serve the party under the leadership of Rahul gandhi, currently the vice-president of the Congress. He endorsed Gandhi as the ideal candidate for the prime minister's post after the 2014 elections.

Instance 4 (October 2013):

Prime Minister Singh was in the USA to meet foreign leaders when suddenly Rahul Gandhi strongly criticised an ordinance which was being pushed by the government to shield convicted politicians. The Congress vice-president termed the ordinance nonsense and wanted it to be torn and discarded.

Instantly, the hell broke loose with the opposition criticising both Singh and Gandhi, for being at the receiving and dictating ends, respectively. The prime minister, who tried to remain as much calm in the face of a strong criticism by his own party leader, said he had no control on what people say. Singh repeated what he said in September 2012 that he would not resign, this time against the criticism of his own party and not the opposition.

Singh's foreign trips are always connected to some kind of 'uprisings' back home. Should he consult an astrologer next time he leaves the shores of India?

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