Singing praises of Manmohan Singh’s ‘revolutionary’ tenure as the country’s Finance Minister in PV Narsimha Rao-led government, Jaitley described him as an elder statesman and a man of credibility.

“Unquestionably Dr. Manmohan Singh was a very good Finance Minister. The footprints he left behind as a Finance Minister during this period will be remembered for a long time,” Jaitley wrote on his Facebook blog.

“There were two strong qualities of Prime Minister that I discovered. Firstly, whenever you discussed a serious subject with the Prime Minister he came out as a man of scholarship,” he added.

“He was what we call to as “a Syana aadmi”. His words were measured and he would reflect before making a comment. Secondly, his personal integrity was always above board. With an element of scholarship he was always be well read and well prepared on any subject that he dealt with,” he wrote.

However, Jaitley also criticized Singh for not being able to come up as a true leader in front of the country.

Jaitley said Singh’s failure to keep in check his Cabinet colleagues would go against him in the history books and added that his inability to overrule people within his own party affected his functioning.

“When he addressed the country, he never came out as a leader. The reason for not coming out as a leader was clear. He never wanted to rock the boat. He knew that he was vested with limited power and on all major decisions he had to keep the party and its first family in good humor,” Jaitley wrote.

“Thus when the reform process was blocked on account of decisions of the National Advisory Council or when Rahul Gandhi tore apart the papers of objectionable ordinance, the Prime Minister was perceived as a non-leader who had to accept everything without his opinion mattering significantly,” he added.

“It was his inability to overrule people which affected his functioning. He did not have the last word,” he said.
Jaitley said had Manmohan Singh overruled his Finance Minister on the retrospective tax law knowing well the consequences of a retrospective taxation, he would have stood out.

“If he had stood up and cancelled the Coal Blocks allocation once the fraud was revealed or cancelled the 2G licenses himself rather than wait for the Court to do it I have no doubt that history would have recorded him very differently. It was the inability to speak up within his own party that may compel the historians to take a different view of the man,” he added.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will hold his last Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. He will demit office on May 17, a day after the results of 2014 Lok Sabha polls are declared.

He had already made it clear before the Lok Sabha elections that he won’t take up a third term as the country’s Prime Minister.


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