05/20/2004, 00.00
Send to a friend

Manmohan Singh will be Prime Minister, bishops satisfied

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – "I am quite happy the way the situation turned out; it is what I really hoped for. With Manmohan Singh serving as prime minister we will have a great intellectual heading our government for the first time. He most likely excels all other prime ministers worldwide in terms of his overall preparation and competence." These were the words of Bishop Percival Fernandez, secretary general of the Indian Bishops' Conference, when speaking to AsiaNews about the Indian Catholic Church's satisfaction with the choice of Singh as the country's new premier.   

Bishop Fernandez said in addition that he much appreciated Sonia Gandhi's gestures of turning down the opportunity to head the new Indian government, calling it a "an act of humility", just like other Catholic leaders had done in the past.

"Once again, Sonia Gandhi has shown her political opponents that she's not interested in power, but in the country and its inhabitants progressing," he said. The bishop added that because of her decision, Gandhi is "loved all the more by the people of India."

Manmohan Singh, a well known Oxford-educated economist, was nominated as prime ministers by 145 Congress party representatives. He will now have the task of forming the new government.

Singh's new position has come after Gandhi's surprise victory and delusion for her refusal of the premiership.

At any rate, the Congress party's number-two choice for prime minister is that of well-educated and well-liked economist (see today's profile: New government by religious minorities promises secular leadership)

Hailing from a Sikh religious upbringing (the faith which just 2% of India's 1.5 billion population profess), Singh had to overcome the distrust his name raised among Congress party backers who were still in state of disbelief and disappointment in the wake of Gandhi's decision. Her decision, however, has enjoyed a double post-election victory as seen in Gandhi's increased acceptance and belonging to India and its people. And all this has happened despite ferocious criticism of BJP president, Atal Mehari Vajpayee, whose party was badly defeated in the last elections.    

Indeed Gandhi's willingness to drop out of the political spotlight in guiding the world's largest democracy has been viewed by many as a choice consistent with the Indian population belief system: turning down something (tyaag) is  regarded as a high moral value in Indian culture, a virtue practiced by major historical figures like Rama, Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi. 

By refusing the position and designation of Singh as premier, Sonia Gandhi has taken away the power and effectiveness of BJP's protests. The BJP spokesman, when asked for his party's opinion of the Gandhi's turning down the post and her party's nomination of Singh as the new premier, simply said that these "decisions does not concern us." 

Singh's qualifications, in addition the respect he enjoys (it was Singh who championed the economic reforms that opened India to the world market in 1991) are an ulterior, precious element of the modernization platform that Sonia Gandhi herself promoted in coming away victorious in the recent general elections.  (LF)
Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Bharat Singh, BJP politician: Christian missionaries are a threat to the nation and to democracy
23/04/2018 09:49
For Sonia Gandhi, communalism and fundamentalism are India's greatest enemies
New government by religious minorities promises secular leadership
Catholic leaders say Sonia Gandhi refusal is "a very Christian decision"
Gandhi turns down position of Prime Minister


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”