Date: 29/09/2013

Rajeev Deshpande, TNN | Sep 29, 2013, 01.49 AM IST

NEW DELHI: A blog asking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to quit is no surprise. After all, the cyberspace is hardly a friendly arena for the PM or the Congress, dominated as it is by right wing opinion.

But this blog, burning up Delhi's bureaucratic grapevine, is different. Its author was till recently a serving Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer and is, more significantly, brother of Planning Commission deputy chairperson Montek Ahluwalia - a key long-term aide of the PM; in fact, Singh's original choice for finance minister in 2009.

In a post this week, Sanjeev Ahluwalia, describing himself as an independent consultant, slams the PM for "betraying himself time and again, as he (PM) turned a Nelson's eye to massive corruption, allowed decision-making to be subverted by unconscionably partisan politics and sloth".

The younger Ahluwalia's blog ( piece, titled "The Man who betrayed himself," and offers forthright advice to the PM that he should quit office for having clearly overstayed his welcome.

"Here is some gratuitous advice to Dr Singh. It is not too late to resign...when you became PM you became "our" PM, not the Congress party's representative," Ahluwalia writes.

"You are, hopefully, not just any other policrat. Please preserve our faith in the belief that professionals and intellectuals are actually "high minded" enough to work against their own self-interest," says the blog being devoured in ministries across Delhi.

"There are thousands of babus who do this for 35 long years of their working lives and are none the worse for it. Please shed your intellectual robes and become the babu you have been," the blog advices the PM.

Ahluwalia was a 1980-batch IAS officer from the Uttar Pradesh cadre who retired about a year ago. He has worked with the World Bank in Sudan till recently.

Sanjeev Ahluwalia's blog says the time could be ripe for Rahul Gandhi to step out of the shadows, but more strikingly refers to the PM as returning to his "babu" roots by defining a "narrowly construed "personal" integrity aimed at keeping "his desk clean".

But this manoeuvre, he says, might be dated. "Even this is questioned in the 2G scam and Coalgate, though most would put down the seeming links to him, to a secretariat, outside of his control...He betrayed his earlier characterization of himself as a Sher (Singh) and appeared to meekly toe the backward looking, ineffective and contradictory party line."

"Who holds the nuclear "button" today is really the question? and does the world believe that Dr. Singh would be allowed to press it should the situation warrant?", the blog says.

The PM had debased the high office he holds. Ahluwalia says that in 2004, "when Dr Manmohan Singh was selected by Mrs Gandhi to became PM, there was relief that after a hiatus of two decades, India would again be led by an "intellectual" far above the hurly burly of election politics, with no personal stake and no motive, except to "wipe the tears from the eyes of the poorest Indian" (the Mahatma)."

The blog notes that the PM showed his mettle in "initiating change in our energy policy" and "abandoning the deadweight of polarizing ideology" to "seemingly put India on the track of fast growth with social inclusion. In 1984 (2004) he was an accidental choice as PM, out of the several other "old" faces around, who were considered politically innocuous enough, to keep the seat warm for Rahul."

The PM's image, says Ahluwalia, took a beating soon after 2009 when "we voted for Dr Singh, based on his record of the past five years but also based on our belief, that more and better was to come."

But instead, "Like the collapse of the mountains above Kedarnath, the lofty edifice built up by reputation and public expectations cracked and collapsed under the weight of timidity, poor political instincts but most importantly self-betrayal."

"Could he have acted differently? Was he constrained by the limitations imposed on "outsiders" joining the "policracy" laterally...When the going gets tough, the tough get way or another," says the blog.

Asking the PM to reclaim his upright image, Ahluwalia writes, "This is a time honored tradition amongst babus. We sup with anyone who parties in the evening, but come the morning, we do the "right" thing, no matter what the consequences.