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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who remained under consistent attack from the opposition in the last decade, won a few words of praise from his critics on his last day in Parliament as head of the UPA government.
However, the opposition continues to hold the view that Singh’s tenure had more lows than highs and it was, possibly, the ‘worst ever’ government the country had.
Rajya Sabha’s Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley called Singh a “different man” in a smaller group but did not mince words tearing into him for not being the “natural leader” of his party or the country.
Someone who has grilled the PM and his government time and again, Jaitley felt the PM “comes out far better” in personal interactions. “Every time that I meet him personally I find that he is to the point and knows the subject quite well. I see in him an element of scholarship,” he added.
However Jaitley added that when the PM speaks on a public platform, including Parliament, he ‘repeats’ same points. “His speeches had less of politics and more of GDP kind subject,” Jaitley said, adding that Singh never came out as an ‘inspirational figure’ inside Parliament and was even “bitter” at times about his criticism.
Opposition benches felt that in not being the “natural leader” of his party, the PM was hardly the driving force behind the government inside the Parliament. They insisted that the first time the PM donned the cap of a leader was when he personally ensured that the Indo-US nuclear deal.
Many felt the ‘cash-for-vote’ to win a subsequent trust vote in 2008 was the lowest point in PM’s career and also the Parliamentary system. “It was the most disgraceful scam under him,” BJP veteran LK Advani said. Another set of opposition leaders felt that UPA’s victory in 2009, despite the cash-for-vote scandal, was perhaps Manmohan Singh’s biggest achievement.