Indian Decade

Parliamentary Indifference

Manmohan Singh has little regard for Parliament. Barack Obama has more for Congress.

One major criticism of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is that he has scant respect for Parliament, and thinks nothing about scheduling foreign trips during parliamentary sessions. Indeed, during the just-concluded budget session, Singh made three overseas visits, including one to meet US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the recent Nuclear Security Summit.

Tellingly, Obama, who is scheduled to visit India in November, has planned the trip for after the US Congress concludes a session. Also, the US president cancelled an earlier tour of Asia to personally steer the controversial healthcare bill through Congress. Unlike Obama, Manmohan Singh is not directly elected, nor is he part of the Lok Sabha or lower house of Parliament, being a nominated Upper House (Rajya Sabha)member.

Not being part of the Lok Sabha reduces his stature and his effectiveness as prime minister, but Manmohan Singh carries on regardless, or appears not to care.  And all this said, the real power in India resides with the Congress party president, Sonia Gandhi, at whose ‘pleasure’Manmohan Singh remainsprime minister.