What makes a PM? | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

What makes a PM?

May 05, 2004 10:33 AM IST

That the silly season is upon us is evident from the number of politicians announcing that they won?t be running for prime ministership.

That the silly season is upon us is evident from the number of politicians announcing that they won’t be running for prime ministership. Such a public denial can only amount to a show of humility, as it would be rather naive to think that PMship is not the ultimate goal that any politician aspires for. But while everybody and his uncle ultimately want the top job, not everyone may have the goods to deliver. Rahul Gandhi, understandably — because of the nature of his party’s image as a family business —  made it clear that he doesn’t want to be treated as “the future PM”. Not so understandably, past PM H.D. Deve Gowda announced that he is “not in the race”.

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Bucking this trend has been HRD Minister Murli Manohar Joshi, who irked his senior colleagues in the BJP by stating that the issue of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s successor is still unresolved. This came after his party tried to control the damage created after Mr Vajpayee stated that everyone in the BJP knew who his successor would be. Although, in keeping with his penchant for the ambiguous, the prime minister in his latest pronouncement stated that there has been no discussion on his successor in the BJP, adding that such talk is only a “media creation”.

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But out of this drama comes an interesting observation made by BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu: “Governing India is not a joke.” Which leads us to the real question: what does it take to be a prime minister? Three requirements help: experience, political skills and leadership qualities.  In other words, as the CEO of the nation, he or she must have all three qualities. The number of years on the job is important, as one would expect an old hand to be a better helmsman than one who is yet to pass through the bump’n’grind of national politics. While Rajiv Gandhi’s first go at the top job was perceived to be spirited but naive, it is generally accepted that if tragedy had not cut his life short, his second stint would have seen a far more confident and better prime minister.

Managerial skills within a political formation comes very high on the requirement list, especially in these times of coalition politics. One liability that many past PMs have shared is their inability to firm up a stable government. Which is where the leadership quality in a PM becomes so important. While both the BJP and the Congress have fielded young politicos to infuse new blood into the parties, it’s best to look upon this trend as an investment for the future. And, in case we forgot to mention, to be a PM one needs that biggest intangible: luck.

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