The last reshuffle?
The Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s statement soon after his new colleagues were sworn in on Tuesday that “as far as I am concerned, this is the last reshuffle before we go to polls” has opened up a new debate in political circles. The Last Reshuffle is certainly not like the Last Supper as everyone would wish Dr Singh a very successful tenure, long enough to see him in top gear till 2014 and beyond.
What is most significant in his statement is that he never put a date to the polls and it were newspaper, TV and news agency reporters who inferred that what he meant was that it was his last rejig exercise before 2014 when elections are due. Therefore to assume that he meant 2014 is not an accurate way of presenting the facts.
Dr Singh is a simple man with high integrity and his observation was perhaps a way of expressing his dissatisfaction with the exercise he had undertaken. It is obvious to anyone watching political developments that the party (Congress) had a larger say in the scheme of things and the Prime Minister merely carried out a ritual.
But his statement is open to several interpretations. One such conclusion can be that is he hinting at an early election to the Lok Sabha. During his meeting with Senior Editors a fortnight ago, he had said that no one wants a mid term poll, a comment aimed at sending a message to his own party (that do not create circumstances which would lead us into an early poll).
As a student of politics, I will be least surprised if a mid term poll is actually held by early next year though many of my own colleagues would strongly contest the probability.
We all know that the UPA government has been facing huge criticism on many counts including price rise, corruption and lack of cohesiveness. Its problems are not due to a strong opposition putting it into a corner but because of its own contradictions, deeds and suicidal traits. Therefore if an early election is necessitated, it will be because some new scam or unforeseeable problem will crop up. The Prime Minister may possibly know what that problem can be.
The second interpretation of the statement is that Dr Singh has made it clear to his party that he is not going to be pushed any further. If they continue to poke him every now and then he will simply walk away like any person with self-pride and dignity. Therefore this exercise should be seen as his last.
The third take on his observation is that Dr Singh is set to become the President of India next year to make way for Rahul Gandhi’s anointment as the Prime Minister. Therefore he will not do any tinkering with his team till the time the change happens.
Whatever be the truth, Dr Singh is also perhaps sulking. Of course he has not shown his open resentment like some of his colleagues but he is not happy is something, which is understandable. Actual events in the forthcoming weeks and months will show what the Prime Minister really meant by the ‘Last Reshuffle’.