Last week, while interacting with women journalists in the national capital Prime Minister Manmohan Singh fiercely defended his decision not to contest the Lok Sabha polls. According to him, his poor health - the prime minister had a bypass surgery in January this year - was one of the reasons why he continued as a Rajya Sabha member. He also pointed to the Indian constitution that allows a member of the upper house of parliament also to hold the top post. Despite repeated taunts from the opposition and advice from the constitutional experts, the 76-year-old Manmohan Singh remain unfazed. Fair enough!
The prime minister also admitted that he was not a good speaker and that's why he was unwilling to accept opposition leader L.K. Advani's challenge to indulge in a public debate with him. For a moment, let's forget about the argument that presidential debates have not been a part of our system. But is Manmohan Singh's excuse a valid one? He may have expected to win some sympathy by making such a candid confession. But does the post he is holding justify sympathy? Is that how he should win the hearts? If one goes by his own favourite phrase - the proof of the pudding is in the eating - should he not take on the challenge instead of earning sympathy votes?
The latest reports suggest that he may not even go and cast his votes. Well, both the government and many private firms have been running campaigns urging the citizens to exercise their franchise. However the security situation in Assam, which has witnessed serial blasts on 6 April, may force both, the PM and his wife,of them to refrain from voting. According to a PTI report on Sunday, he and Gurcharan Kaur are liste d as voters in the Dispur assembly segment (serial no 726 & 727, house no 3989) that forms part of the Guwahati Lok Sabha constituency. Apparently, the security agencies have not given a green signal for the prime minister to visit Assam on 23 April to come to the polling booth located at Dispur Government Higher Secondary School. Interestingly, in the 2006 assembly polls too, the prime minister did not vote.
Humbly put, Mr prime minister, you have to get your feet wet to swim in the political waters, even if it is dirty.