Manmohan Singh 3rd longest serving Prime Minister of India
Manmohan Singh 3rd longest serving Prime Minister of India: Manmohan Singh has been overtaken Atal Bihari Vajpayee by clocking 2,273 days in office on August 11, 2010 after after Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi and thus Manmohan Singh became the third (3rd) longest serving Prime Minister of India. For a man who took over the country’s top job only because of an act of renunciation by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.
Manmohan Singh is the 14th and current Prime Minister of the Republic of India. He is the first Indian Prime Minister since Jawaharlal Nehru to return to power after completing a full five-year term. He is the first Sikh to hold the post. Singh is also the 12th Prime Minister under an Indian National Congress Government.
Singh previously carried out economic reforms in India during his tenure as the Finance Minister from 1991 to 1996. These reforms resulted in the end of the Licence Raj system, helping to open the Indian economy to greater international trade and investment. In 2010, TIME magazine listed him among the 100 most influential people in the world. A spate of political commentaries of the time called him soft spoken and “not a politician” who could talk only in economic jargon.
Manmohan Singh was probably most surprised when Sonia Gandhi chose him to lead the government, as she stepped aside to take care of the party and politics. It started the reign of a strange twosome at the top, where the non-elected Singh handled the government while Sonia took care of the politics and party. With a fractious coalition including the Left parties who wanted to run the government by remote control, nobody expected much out of him or the UPA.
Singh goaded the Congress leadership to come along because he felt the nuclear deal was in “national interest”. In fact, returning from Washington in July 2005, after signing the nuclear deal with George Bush, Singh observed to some travelling journalists, “What the economic reforms did for the Indian economy, I think the nuclear deal will do for India’s energy and strategic future.”
By May 2009, the world was in its worst ever economic crisis. Singh seemed to be the only person who knew what was going on in the hoary world of economics. The Indian economy was doing fine, had actually weathered the crisis with some deft handling by Singh. He was a safe pair of hands.
He surprised many when he aggressively countered BJP’s campaign theme depicting him as a weak leader. BJP had sought to contrast Singh with L K Advani whom it painted as a “strong and decisive leader” to turn the Lok Sabha election into a presidential contest of sorts.
Singh did not flinch from the fight. With Sonia and even Rahul Gandhi firmly behind him, he gave back what he got with more vigour. In its post-poll inquest, BJP admitted that Singh’s surprising tenacity turned out to be a big wrench in their scheme.
Singh carried that form into ministry-making when he surprised DMK chief M Karunanidhi with some tough talking when the DMK patriarch asked for a disproportionate share of berths.