New Delhi: The eighth consecutive speech given by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from the ramparts of the Red Fort in New Delhi on the occasion of Independence Day was a damp squib --- both literally (thanks to a steady drizzle) and metaphorically.
It is well known that Manmohan Singh is not a natural orator, unlike the leaders who came before him. His immediate predecessor, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, for instance, could hold thousands in his thrall with his linguistic finesse and dramatic pauses. It is perhaps unfair to expect such levels of public communication from the current Prime Minister, who is otherwise one of the most intelligent and personally honest leaders we have had. But we would have expected Manmohan Singh to be a bit more inspirational at a time when the national mood is quite glum and the government he leads has lost its way.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressing the nation from the historic Red Fort during the 65th Independence Day function in New Delhi on Monday. PTI photo
His speech gave no indication of a new future. What the Prime Minister offered was weak reassurances on issues such as inflation and corruption, and read out a laundry list of legislative and policy action that is already well known.
There were mentions of the Lokpal Bill, the Judicial Accountability Bill, a proposed bill on government procurement, the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Bill, the Twelfth Five Year Plan, the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana, Rajiv Awas Yojana, an improved Integrated Child Development Services scheme, National Green Tribunal and the Right to Food law.
The nation expected something more than this insipid sermon.