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Manmohan Singh: When Bruce Banner becomes Hulk

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Manmohan Singh’s scathing letter to Narendra Modi may not be as uncharacteristic as it seems. The usually level-headed politician has been stern with his statements many times.

Former PM Manmohan Singh Monday shocked the BJP with a stern response to current Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s allegations that the Congress party conspired with Pakistan to rig the Gujarat elections.

In his letter, Singh criticised Modi for the “falsehoods and canards” saying that the “desperation of the Prime Minister to hurl every abuse and latch on to every straw is palpable”.

For a man who has been referred to as ‘The Accidental Prime Minister,’ in the title of a memoir, Manmohan Singh has made more noise after his term in office, than he did during it. The ‘silent’ politician, Singh’s public image has always been one of restraint and rationality.

However, this letter to Modi may not be as uncharacteristic as made out to be. Singh has had his ‘Hulk moments’ in the past. Here are four other moments when the usually composed politician lost his cool:

Demonetisation, 2016

Singh remained calm during his parliamentary speeches, but his strong choice of words highlighted his simmering anger and disappointment with “what has been done in the name of greater good”. He called demonetisation “organised loot and legalised plunder”, adding that it was a “monumental management failure”. The reactions to his speech on social media expressed surprise and appreciation.

Firm stand on the Indo-US Nuclear Deal, 2007

Manmohan Singh did not bend when Leftist parties constantly threatened withdrawal from the UPA-Left alliance if the then-PM went through with the Indo-US Nuclear Deal.

In an exclusive interview with the Telegraph, he had said, “I told them to do whatever they want to do, if they want to withdraw support, so be it.” Manmohan Singh refused to back down from a deal that was past the point of negotiation. He said, “I don’t get angry, I don’t want to use harsh words. They are our colleagues and we have to work with them. But they also have to learn to work with us.”

Advani comment, 2009

Manmohan Singh’s uncensored criticism of BJP veteran L.K. Advani was far from mild. In this instant, Singh made a departure from his detached, logical style to a more personal and vengeful attack on Advani’s handling of significant events in India’s history.

Interacting with the press after a rally in Mumbai, he stressed on the difference between BJP and Congress. He said that, “Unlike Advani, I will not be found weeping in a corner while hoodlums tear down a centuries-old mosque,” in a reference to the razing of Babri Masjid. The rest of his statements in Mumbai were equally candid and forward.

L.K. Advani

Response to corruption charges, 2012

In 2012, the UPA government was charged with alleged irregularities in coal blocks allocations, resulting in an estimated loss over Rs 10 lakh crore. When asked about his involvement, Manmohan Singh said, “I will give up my public life if allegations are proved against me.” He maintained his innocence throughout the trial.

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