An Honest Letter from Manmohan Singh to Mr Modi

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An Honest Letter from Manmohan Singh to Mr Modi

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

D

earest NaMo,

I know you’ve been having a pretty rough go of late, what with everyone piling onto you for not speaking out about the Unnao and Kathua rape cases soon enough. I know I was one of them when I said you should take your own advice and make a statement instead of staying silent.

Hurts, doesn’t it?

I still remember when people, including you, criticised me for not talking much, making jokes about how “Maun Mohan Singh” is only able to communicate via “MMS”.

That’s why few people can understand what you’re going through like I can. All the rumours and controversy surrounding the fourth year of your tenure takes me back to the days when I was a subject of constant public ridicule and outrage – in other words, when I was Prime Minister. You see, my dear Modiji, I had a lot to contend with too. Starting with people condemning me just because I’m the strong, silent type. Please don’t get me wrong – this is not an invitation to compare chest size. You are definitely stronger and more silent than me!

Being in the hot seat now, you might realise that keeping quiet is a way (wayyyy!) better strategy than senselessly spewing out any thought that enters your mind. Look at the Governor and CM of Tripura, for instance, insisting that we had internet and satellite systems during the Mahabharata. Or Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan’s fake news about poor Stephen Hawking believing in Vedic relativity. The last thing you want is to end up as, or be associated with semi-literate buffoons. Oh, wait…

Anyway, just know that these things are enough to undermine your entire message of progress and development. The monkey on my back was Rahul Gandhi, who once stated that poverty is a state of mind, single-handedly destroying the notion that Congress represents the janata. Well, that and all the overblown corruption cases. Still, if his own state of mind were a bit more intelligent, he would have followed our example and kept his mouth shut.

As solid, upstanding men of finance, it’s best to have all the facts before making a statement, even when you are a wonderful orator. That way you never have to apologise – at least, in theory. And when it comes to the economy, you and I both know that theory is what counts. How else do you have the courage for bold ideas like economic liberalism or demonetisation? At first, a few people might cry foul and go hungry, but in the long run, we are all dead anyway. That’s a little economist humour for you, sir. Did you hear the one about the chaiwala? His cup runneth over with misfortune.

As the uncles who circulate your WhatsApp fan messages would say: LOL! Don’t mind, just kidding! Your journey from the beverage-making proletariat to the highest office in the land is an inspiration to so many. I can’t wait for the Bollywood biopic to hit screens near me. But first, you’ll have to send your brothers in saffron to protest the upcoming film about my life, unfortunately titled The Accidental Prime Minister. Anupam Kher has got the look down, but I’m still not sure if he can capture my trademark lack of voice. Hopefully the loud, incessant ranting of your followers will drown out any imperfections in Mr Kher’s performance. It’s not easy to fill my shoes, and who knows that better than you?

When it comes to the economy, you and I both know that theory is what counts. How else do you have the courage for bold ideas like economic liberalism or demonetisation? At first, a few people might cry foul and go hungry, but in the long run, we are all dead anyway

And you have other shoes to fill as well – the size 9 Hindi-monogrammed loafers of the NaMo who kept his word. Credibility is a fickle friend for us politicians. It takes years to build it, and only a few dozen scandals to dismantle.

For me it was corruption, and for you, communalism. Even though I was known as the only guy in Delhi with a conscience, there’s something we must know that comes bundled with the Prime Minister’s office: No matter how many “raincoats” you wear, you will still get wet in the downpour.

It’s time for you to learn what I learnt the hard way, Mr Modi. Keep your head held high and your Nehru collar buttoned tight. I hope you can emerge from the muck smelling fresher than I did. When all this blows over, let’s recharge our batteries by catching up for a film. I have the perfect one too – it’s called A Quiet Place.   

All my love,

Dr Manmohan Singh

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