Sun, Aug 21, 2011 - Page 5 News List

ANALYSIS: India’s ‘Mr Clean’ cornered by anti-graft drive

AFP, NEW DELHI

“He has always maintained a low-key presence, which today makes him seem ineffective before a public which needs him to speak loudly in a time of confusion and crisis. He doesn’t inspire their confidence,” Rao said.

A few months ago, Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram acknowledged in an interview that the public wanted to hear more often from Singh.

“Lots of people would like the prime minister to step up to the plate, so as to say, and speak more often. But that is the style of the person,” Chidambaram told the NDTV channel.

In a sign of growing concern over Singh’s ability to lead, a poll released earlier this month by a New Delhi-based research institute showed that Indians’ top choice for prime minister was Rahul Gandhi, scion of the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty.

About 34 percent of the more than 20,000 people polled said Gandhi, 43, should replace Singh immediately as prime minister, compared with just 22 percent who wanted Singh to stay on.

The face-off with Hazare will have done nothing to reverse those numbers, but experts say the government is unlikely to want a leadership change before 2014, when national elections are slated to take place.

“The Congress would not want to expose Rahul Gandhi to criticism at a point when the government has its back to the wall. Even though Singh is losing ground, he will stay on,” Rao said.

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