Narendra Modi is a “paradoxical Prime Minister” who has failed the electorate and eroded the voters’ faith in his promises over four and a half years, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Friday.
Speaking after releasing Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor’s book on PM Modi, Singh said that the Modi government has remained silent in the face of widespread communal violence, mob lynching and cow vigilantism despite promising to be Prime Minister for all of India. The government, he said, has sought to curb academic freedom and the “environment in our universities and national institutions like the CBI is being vitiated and dissent stifled”.
“A fearful population, an economy that has been set back by foolhardy initiatives, a painful lack of jobs, growing distrust among India’s farming communities, a devastating number of farmer suicides, insecure borders, instability in Kashmir and the palpable failure in implementation of even laudable initiatives like Swachh Bharat, skill development, Make in India and Beti Bachao Beti Padhao… this is (what) the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi presides over, not secular, plural, free and equal society that our founding fathers had envisaged and envisioned and was built in its first six and a half decades as a free nation,” Singh said.
He said Modi had come to power on the back of many “lofty promises”, but “failed the electorate and eroded the voters’ faith in his words and promises”. Referring to Tharoor’s book The Paradoxical Prime Minister, Singh said, “Modi is a paradoxical Prime Minister.” On the economic front, he said that nothing concrete was done to bring back black money allegedly stashed abroad. While a hastily implemented demonetisation and GST proved to be disastrous, petrol and diesel prices are at a historic high, he said.
“Modi’s rule has not been good for India… Much of what the Modi government is all about has turned out to be a little more than a series of empty gestures and marketing gimmick with very little of substance having been achieved on the ground,” he said, adding that Tharoor’s book is a reminder that the idea of India is under threat today from those who seek to change India’s very heart and soul.
Participating in a panel discussion later, former Union minister P Chidambaram said that Modi is the “embodiment of an illiberal democracy”. Former Union minister Arun Shourie said that Modi’s bad days have begun. “People have begun to understand… I believe he (Modi) has completely lost control over even the administration… what you are seeing in the CBI today… there is an absolute civil war…”
JD(U) leader Pavan Varma said the opposition despite all its criticism could not project an alternative and produce a leader who can be a challenge to Modi. “Why is the opposition in so much disarray?” he said.
Varma said the JD(U), a BJP ally, has no hesitation criticising the BJP government for things it does not approve of. He said that if Modi is an obstacle to the “idea of a composite, plural, united India”, the JD(U) will fight him.