Manmohan Singh has been mocked by many in the right for his public silence during his two terms as Prime Minister. He scarcely held press conferences, and it often appeared that he was a figurehead for the Gandhi family. However, he was and remains no empty mouthpiece, as his policies as Finance Minister made India the emerging superpower it is today.
Following current Prime Minister Modi’s much-scrutinized silence on the gruesome Kathua and Unnao rape cases, Singh said, “I think the Prime Minister should follow his own advice to me and he should speak more often. Through press (reports) I know that he used to criticize me for not speaking up. I feel that the advice that he used to give me, he should follow it himself.”
When required, Singh is not short of a word. Here are his most memorable quotes over the years:
“History will be kinder to me than the opposition parties in Parliament”– Remarking on the short memories of his critics.
“Without discussing the merits of Narendra Modi, I sincerely believe that it will be disastrous for the country to have Modi as the PM” – Singh made his feelings on his then-potential successor extremely clear ahead of the 2014 election.
“India happens to be a very rich country inhabited by very poor people”– He succinctly explained the nature of wealth distribution and inequality in the nation.
“Have you heard of any other country where members of opposition walk into the well of the house and shout ‘PM chor hai'”- Ever the picture of restraint, Singh expressed his frustration with the conduct of the opposition party.
“We all know that the epicentre of terrorism in the world today is Pakistan. The world community has to come to grips with this harsh reality.” – Even on the international front, Singh was not shy of calling a spade a spade if need be.