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Mixed Media: Why Manmohan Singh is possibly the world's most boring Prime Minister

25-May-2010
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Mixed Media: Why Manmohan Singh is possibly the world's most boring Prime Minister

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz......
Huh. Sorry, didn’t realise that I had begun writing my column. As if the Monday morning blues weren’t enough after a hot week in the Capital, the Prime Minister’s press conference last morning sure put me to sleep.

While it is good leadership and governance that one seeks from a Prime Minister, in a world where the media plays a huge role in influencing the minds of the young and old, the presser held by Dr Manmohan Singh on May 24, 2010 was a big disappointment.

It was perhaps incorrect for one to build any expectations. In the recent past, India has a history of boring Prime Ministers. A VP Singh could give interesting interviews, but look at the people we have at the helm: Narasimha Rao – his regime was interesting (reforms, Harshad Mehta controversy, etc.), but he inspired none. Deve Gowda was (is!) awful; I K Gujral a shade better than Gowda, but just about; Atal Behari Vajpayee’s pauses got longer with each passing day, and even though he was charismatic as PM, it required a huge amount of patience to watch him on telly.

Manmohan Singh (MMS, in short) was a dynamic finance minister and his Budget Day speeches were a delight to watch. But as you look back, I guess the reason why we all thought he was so hot and happening was because of the content of his speeches, and not possibly his delivery.

Cut to 2010, it’s critical for us to have a telegenic Prime Minister who can inspire the public. We need a leader who is a smart politician, a sound administrator, a great leader and a charming talker. If you were to add the need for dollops of youth: Rahul Gandhi would possibly fit in superbly, as would a few other Congress leaders. No one from the BJP works... not Sushma Swaraj, the Godhra-tainted Narendra Modi and not even Arun Jaitley. The Communists have some good speakers, but I don’t think they will ever get to the Top Job.

While Rahul Gandhi was super in his press conference at the time of last year’s General Elections, his boyish charm may have worked with the English media, but it’s not necessary that he’ll cut much ice with the India that lives in the villages.

Clearly, it is not necessary that it’s got to be one of the babalogs of the Congress. It could be someone as earthy as a Laloo Prasad Yadav or a doer like Nitish Kumar. What we need is a person who does his or her work and in addition is a smart communicator. That’s an imperative of the 24x7 news television age. Perhaps in times to come, we’ll also have a Prime Minister who’s on social networks and who tweets, but for the now, it would do to have a man (or woman) who connects with the 1billion+ Indians.

It is evident that the PM’s spin doctors, too, aren’t the type who lay much emphasis on putting on an act for television. Or perhaps they do, but the man himself doesn’t quite care a fig for all of this.

Thankfully, it is not too often that we have the Prime Minister coming out to speak to the nation or addressing press conferences. Guess, I need to find more natural ways to catch up on some sleep. Zzzzzzzzz….

(The views expressed here are my own. Post your comments below or email me at pradyumanm@exchange4media.com.)

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