Home English News Outgoing Indian PM Manmohan Singh leaves legacy of achievements and failures

Outgoing Indian PM Manmohan Singh leaves legacy of achievements and failures


India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaks during a news conference in WashingtonNEW DELHI, May 16 — Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is credited with playing a key role in ushering in economic reforms in the 1990s, will leave office after 10 years and leave a mixed legacy of achievements and failures.

Scams that surfaced during United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-2 governance may have undone the good work of the 81-year-old leader, who had achieved the distinction of serving two tenures as prime minister – the longest since first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s 17 years in office.

Press Trust of India (PTI) reports Singh will tender his resignation on Saturday when vote counting of the the Lok Sabha elections will take place across the country with the UPA projected to suffer a defeat.


A celebrated economist, Singh entered politics at the height of the 1991 economic crisis when late prime minister P V Narasimha Rao inducted him into the government as finance minister. Together they lifted the economy out of the balance of payments crisis and then paved the way for economic reforms on which no successive government has looked back.

A technocrat who had occupied various positions including as Reserve Bank governor and secretary general of the South-South Commission, Singh had earned a name for probity and integrity that made him the automatic choice for Sonia Gandhi when she renounced the post of prime minister.

Singh, who took over as prime minister from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in the aftermath of the 2002 post-Godhra riots and a charged communal atmosphere, saw his administration bring a sense of balance to the situation.

Notwithstanding pulls and pressures from allies especially the left-wing parties, Singh displayed considerable determination to go ahead with the Indo-US
nuclear deal and to end the sanctions regime against India.

A renowned economist, his government delivered a robust 8.5 per cent gross domestic product (GDP) growth for most of his tenure but the scams — 2G, CWG,
Coal block allocations and resultant policy paralysis of the government – stymied his performance.

United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-2 could never come out of the rut, a point the corporates initially and Bharatiya Janata Party prime minister candidate Narendra Modi exploited to the hilt to attack the government.

Ironically, a man whose personal honesty has never been questioned came to preside over a government that was marked by a series of scams. The perceived dual power centre in the Congress in the form of power vesting with party chief Sonia Gandhi also came to haunt Singh with critics attacking him as the weakest prime minister the country has ever had.

Books by the prime minister’s former media adviser Sanjaya Baru and some other bureaucrats have only highlighted such a charge. Singh has maintained that history will be kinder to him than the current assessments.

His rise to the top highlights what a man with a humble background can achieve in Indian democracy. Singh was the first Sikh to become a prime minister after Sonia Ghandhi —
an Italian Christian — nominated him to the post.