Economist-turned-politician emerges leader in his own right | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Economist-turned-politician emerges leader in his own right

Victorious from the most severe challenge to his government in Parliament,PM Manmohan Singh emerges a political leader in his own right acquiring the authority to go ahead with the Indo-US nuclear deal.

delhi Updated: Jul 22, 2008 21:10 IST

Victorious from the most severe challenge to his government in Parliament, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has emerged a political leader in his own right acquiring the authority to go ahead with the Indo-US nuclear deal and probably give a push to economic reforms blocked by the Left parties.

Self-effacing and given to keeping a low profile, the 75-year-old economist-turned-politician in his own way brought to the forefront the nuclear deal and even staked his government's future on an issue he considered very critical for India's future in terms of energy security.

It was a different Manmohan Singh last year, who appeared ready to sacrifice the deal at the altar of coalition politics in the face of stiff opposition from his former allies the Left parties.

"There will be disappointment, but in life one has to always live with disappointments," he said in October when he was asked about the Left parties threat to withdraw support if he went ahead with the nuke deal. "This is not not an one-issue government," he had maintained then.

This was a couple of months after he had dared the Left parties saying if they want to witdraw support, "so be it".

The wheel has taken a full circle when last month Singh made it clear to his party, his coalition partners and to the Left allies that he should be given the freedom to go ahead with the deal, which he considers a major diplomatic initiative to end India's nuclear apartheid and bring along other benefits.

From his days as a demure reforms-implementing Finance Minister in the Narasimha Rao Government in the nineties to steering the government through a survival-threatening crisis, the former RBI governor and South-South Commission member has stood his ground and ensured that the government did not not collapse, a feat many a veteran politician would envy.

The last 11 months during which a committee of UPA and Left parties went into the nuclear deal also gave time for the Prime Minister to convince the allies that the nuclear deal was in the interest of the country.

The UPA constituents, who had their own reservations on the deal in the beginning when the Left stepped up their opposition and were not not in favour of elections, finally fell in line with the Prime Minister's stand.

By his persuasive ways even when he was persistent, Singh got the full backing of the Congerss party and Sonia Gandhi that culminated in the decision to approach the IAEA as time was running out.

Manmohan Singh, a reticent politician who had lost his only direct election from South Delhi Parliamentary constituency in 1999, emerged the dark horse when Congress President Sonia Gandhi chose him to the post of the Prime Minister after she declined to take up the coveted post.

Ever since he took over as Prime Minister, the BJP, particularly Leader of the Opposition L K Advani, had been attacking him as the "weakest" Prime Minister India had but the success in the parliamentary trial of strength today should put on him the stamp of a skillful poltician, analysts believe.

Singh's victory provides him also the opportunity to possibly undertake "the unfinished agenda" of economic reforms on which his government could not not make much progress because of the stiff opposition from the erstwhile Left allies.

Now working out a consensus with the Samajwadi Party on reforms in the limited time that is available before the next elections may be easier for him because the new-found ally may not not be stridently opposed to the reforms as the Left parties were.