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’In a situation like Gujarat, he will take drastic action’


Thursday 20 May 2004, by BOSE*Raja

AHMEDABAD: No one needs to be told that Manmohan Singh is good on the economic front but, what many do not know is that he is a shrewd politician too, a strong man and has great political acumen, feels former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor IG Patel, as Prime Minister-designate Manmohan Singh, the man Patel knows for over five decades, readies for his coronation.

"He knows very well how to deal with politicians. He is a man who would not like to rub anyone the wrong way. But, he does have the strength to deal with the rough characters in politics," feels Patel.

For years, they have taken active part in scripting the country’s economic progress and Patel, whom Singh has succeeded as chief economic adviser and RBI governor, talks about the genteel man who would not rub anyone the wrong way and yet stand strong in the face of adversity.

But, will he be able to make the party tide over the rough and tumble of coalition politics, more so when he has to deal with the likes of Laloo Prasad Yadav and the Left ? Patel is certain he would. And, he should know, having known Singh for 52 years. "People are talking about the pulls and pressures of coalition politics. They are also asking whether this coalition will be able to carry on with reforms. I feel Singh has the strength to have a moderating effect on the allies, which he would do along with Sonia Gandhi," says Patel.

"He is a person whose integrity is beyond doubt. He is a low key man and I feel, even as Prime Minister, he will like to make it appear as if he is not the man who is running the country. He will not be very assertive. He has never been except for the time when he needed to assert while driving reforms as the finance minister. It is not in his nature and it is his general tendency not to annoy people," adds Patel.

For the former RBI governor, now settled in Vadodara, Singh is also a man who has the courage to take tough decisions. "If faced with a situation like Gujarat , Singh would not hesitate to take drastic action. I believe much more drastic action would be taken if such a situation arose again, maybe even the chief minister would get removed.

"As far as running the country is concerned, he has a style of functioning that is not difficult, apart from being a person who would not take on people. That would make things easier. With over 50 years of association and having seen him from such close quarters, I am sure he will even make it appear as if he is the man on the hot seat. He will maintain a fine balance. So, do not expect too much on the economic front from him. And, do not under-estimate him on the political front. And, he will run the country very well," says Patel.

See online : The Times of India


in The Times of India, Thursday, May 20, 2004.

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