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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 May, 2004, 10:25 GMT 11:25 UK
Will Manmohan Singh make a good Indian PM?
Manmohan Singh
India's president has sworn in Manmohan Singh to lead the country's next government.

Mr Singh, India's first Sikh prime minister, says he wants to push the peace process with Pakistan.

Correspondents say the soft-spoken new head of the Congress-led government is aiming to reassure wide sections of society as well as the financial markets.

You put your questions to India expert, Kailash Budhwar in our interactive forum

The new leader pledged to continue economic reforms with what he described as a human face.

Sonia Gandhi, who turned down the post of prime minister, will continue to head the Congress party.

Will Manmohan Singh make a good prime minister? What are your views on Sonia Gandhi's decision not to take the role?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far.

It is almost poetic justice that the very man who kick-started India's economic advancement at the end of the twentieth century, will lead it at the beginning of the twenty-first. There is no question that India is in very safe hands with Dr Singh. The fact that he is an utterly decent man is a bonus, and something that Indians can take great pride in. One cannot, however, forget the good work of Dr Singh's elderly but visionary predecessor, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who also achieved a great deal for the country.
Abhaey Singh, London, UK

After a long time, India is getting a real great prime minister with a brain and personality, which it deserves very badly. I wish him a great luck and wishes to tackle the country's big issues and problems, so that India too can come out of wood and step up with world's top countries.
Harry Hunjan, Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada

I'm a BJP-supporter and pretty disappointed that inspite of a really good performance by the NDA (except for Gujrat and Lucknow which) they got booted out by the electorate. However I don't think that Sonia's foreign origins are an issue at all, and I think it's really stupid that the BJP keeps bringing it up. It's nothing more than a cheap political stunt on their behalf and I wish they would stop it. Even then, I think Manmohan Singh is an even better choice than Sonia for PM. I would still prefer Vajpayee as PM, but if it can't be him then I suppose Manmohan is better than Sonia because of his impressive record.
SS, California, USA

At the outset, I congratulate Dr.Manmohan Singh on being chosen as the Prime minister of India. It was a god send for my country when Sonia stood down. When Congress won without absolute majority, the vultures were out in full swing in Delhi trying to promote themselves as alternate candidate to Sonia to the post of PM of India. Like it or not, these people are power brokers in their own states. Dr. Singh's main challenge is to survive the combined attack of these politicians.
Anon, Toronto Canada

I esteem the integrity, devotion & hard work of Dr Manmohan Singh. I am sure he will make a good Prime Minister provided his party's coalition partners support him. I wish him all success in his endeavours.
Shiraz K Satarawala, Mahabaleshwar, India

Mr. Manmohan Singh is cultured, highly educated, well trained expert in economics with a successful track record - he will succeed. The problem is the money crazy, rotten, uneducated and uncultured politicians who think only of themselves and their crooked henchmen.
Kanu Sadarangani, NYC, USA

Manmohan Singh is some light in the dark of Indian politics
Santhosh, Bangalore, India
It's really great news in midst of an election shock. Sonia Gandhi with no political background, an inability to even speak good Hindi can never be a good prime minister. Unfortunately the majority of Indians still revel in the past and the name "Gandhi" invokes much passion. It's time we get out of that magical web of illusion and get real.. Manmohan Singh is some light in the dark of Indian politics. I hope he will steer India away from apathy and servitude.
Santhosh, Bangalore, India

It is indeed a proud day for India and her political system and this proves to all the doubters that India is destined for the highest stratum regardless of the obstructions she faces. Manmohan Singh hails from a culture of honour, valour and sacrifice and let no one doubt that if pushed he will on India's behalf show that he indeed has a spine of steel.
Suba Sinniah, Malaysia

Yes, India is in the safest hands but I think he will have a tough time to manage the leftist. Anyways we now have the Best President, Best PM and hopefully the Best FM, P. Chidambaram and this combination would rocket the country into a good position. I wish Manmohan and its cabinet ministers Jai Hind
Vairavan Sockalingam, Edinburgh, UK

It's very rare to have a PM in India who does not have to be taught Finance and Economics
Vivek Menon, Paris, France
There is no doubt that Manmohan Singh will make a great PM and there is no better person to improve India's image on the world scene. It's very rare to have a PM in India who does not have to be taught Finance and Economics. His management of coalition politics will be his biggest test and given his no nonsense approach, he will not hesitate to call it quits if coalition parties begin to pull in different directions. The decision of Sonia Gandhi was a smart one which would have otherwise meant handling pressures from opposition parties from day one.
Vivek Menon, Paris, France

I am happy today to see a great prime minister and a great president. We have a great opposition leader too! Both prime minister and president happen to be from minority. Here we Indians are setting a great example. The minorities can take important positions in India if they are "qualified". Minorities should neither be denied to take up important positions because they are in minority nor "minorities should be given important positions just for "vote bank politics" of appeasing minorities. I am sure we'll see many more Vajapeyi's, Singh's and Kalam's in future.
Rajendra, Austin, Texas

First of all let us congratulate to Mr.Manmohan Singh on success as Prime Minister of India. He is most suitable person and well experience man who has studied in Oxford and Cambridge University well known in the world. Moreover Mr.Mohan Singh has an experience throughout the life on the economy of the country who have studied physical and theoretical way.
Patel MA, Saudi Arabia

It is great that my country has the best President AND Prime minister right now. Both are men of unquestionable integrity, simplicity AND even competence. Both are capable of energizing the nation, its youth and children. We are a lucky lot !!!
Vijay Natesan, Chennai, India

It is great to see highly talented person who has spent decades in politics and having great image and great policies on the most honourable seat. With regards to his mind set and his abilities he is the right choice for PM's position but I afraid how other coalition members will allow him to work as per his plans.
Shailendra, Pune

This selfless act will have far reaching consequences for both India and Pakistan
Mubashir Mumtaz, USA
Sonia Gandi has elevated the largest democracy in the world even higher. Her humble and wise decision has given it a South Asian flavour which could not be matched by the highly proud democracies of the west. She has put an end to the controversies regarding her origin and shown extreme wisdom by choosing a minority person to rule the country. This selfless act will have far reaching consequences for both India and Pakistan and is an example for the politicians here in the US running for the presidency this year.
Mubashir Mumtaz, USA

I was not particularly fond of Sonia Gandhi when she and her party won the recent elections, but considering such a selfless act...I am impressed with her character and now actually wish she does take back her decision and becomes PM. I wish she would change her mind.
Rajesh, Liverpool, UK

Person of Sikh community to become the PM of India is unbelievable. This could only be possible because of Sonia Gandhi, who is fair-minded and doesn't believe in racism, castes deeply rooted in Indian society .He is highly respected person in his field and worthy of holding such high post. Sonia has really done something unbelievable.
Daljit Singh, Brampton, Canada

By virtue of the fact that he is from a religious minority alone is enough to ensure that India will gain credibility. After the fractious sectarian policies of the BJP and Hindu right-wing, India desperately needs to build bridges between its different communities of people. I welcome the initiative on Pakistan. Manmohan Singh sounds promising. Let us hope he can fulfil his promises.
Bilal Patel, London, UK

Nothing can win Indians more than an act of giving up or sacrifice. Mahatama Gandhi could not have become the soul of India and single handily mobilised hundreds of millions if had not given up virtually everything for the Indian cause. Sonia Gandhi is on her way to a grand inning in Indian politics in the years to come.
Sanjeev Sharma, Cambridge UK

Manmohan Singh is the best choice as PM
Vinod Dawda, Coventry,UK
Manmohan Singh is the best choice as PM. He is clearly a clean Indian with no skeletons in the closet and he understands economics. This commands an immense respect. There is nothing racist about rejecting Sonia. It would be a matter of poor self image if a billion people could not come with someone rooted in India to take the highest post. Sonia in any case has raised her stature and power by rejecting the post. This will give ample opportunity and ease to groom her children for the highest office. No prizes for guessing the next prime minister of India!
Vinod Dawda, Coventry, UK

The people didn't vote for Manmohan Singh; they voted for Sonia Gandhi.
Vivek, Houston

Why do we want to cling to the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty for ever? Indian's concern that she is not Indian is correct. You live in the US as a naturalized citizen you cannot become the President and or Vice President of the United States. India should also have a law to become the Prime Minister/President of the biggest democracy you should be a born citizen. Among the one billion people, you cannot find the right Indian to take the job. Dr. Man Mohan Sing is the best choice. Try to forget Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.
Krishna San Francisco, USA

This post should go to a person who has the leadership and communication qualities. Ms. Ghandi does not have it! Plain and simple. People who still want to cling on to her sari are just pathetic. I must say this was great a decision from Ms. Ghandi!
Shamis, Boston, USA

I find it hard to believe that Sonia Gandhi led her party to such an electoral victory with no plans to be prime minister. Her refusal to serve is a clear indication of how much racial intolerance still exists in "The world's largest democracy".
Arho Akpe, Lagos, Nigeria

A masterstroke by an astute leader
Suhaan Mukerji, London
A masterstroke by an astute leader. The decision will further strengthen and broaden her and the Congress party's support base and hopefully ensure that the BJP stays in the political wilderness.
Suhaan Mukerji, London

Mrs Gandhi has proved her point - that she has the ability to understand Indian politics, forge coalitions and work single mindedly to safeguard Indian principles. Though I can empathise with people who object to her as PM due to her origin, I find it sad that their method of communicating it was vulgar and shrill. Ironically, it is Mrs. Gandhi who has exemplified, through her conduct, the true values worthy of an Indian.
Rajeev, New Delhi, India

Just because she is the Widow of Rajiv Ghandi the Congress Party chose her as the Leader of the Party, but what has she achieved on her own rights prior to 1998? There are many capable leaders within the party who should consider themselves to be eligible instead of wasting the time.
Ranjan, UK

Sonia's decision was right on the money. Dr. Singh has enough experience and credibility at home and abroad to lead India. A Sikh PM and a Muslim president, would also serve as a poster board for our secular credentials.
Aanand Krishnan, San Jose, USA

Shrewd politicians use dubious means to come to power
Derek Foghang, Yaounde, Cameroon
The decision by the Indian PM designate, Sonia Gandhi to step down after leading Congress to victory is an electoral strategy by power mongers in the party who wanted to use the charisma of the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty to bring congress back to power from their political wilderness where they had been relegated for the last decade. Mrs Gandhi is just a victim of this strategy. This is the complex world of politics where shrewd politicians use dubious means to come to power. This clique henceforth will prefer Mrs Gandhi to play some influential behind-the-scenes role and not Prime minister, an Italian for that matter. Nevertheless, I must congratulate her for her bravery during the campaign .
Derek Foghang, Yaounde, Cameroon

Good decision taken by Sonia Gandhi at right time. Hope Manmohan Singh will lead the country with his great skills. Thanks for this opportunity.
Srinivas Reddy, Washington/USA

Hats off to Sonia Gandhi for her unselfish leadership. She has saved the Congress Party from extinction and her unselfish actions would make all of us proud that there are people who think about Country before self. The fact that she has mastered Hindi, her Indianness in mobilizing the country and the Congress Party leadership should be commended. I am a bit surprised that the BJP behaved so poorly including some of the BJP leadership in pointing fingers at her. I wish her best and hope and pray some day BJP would learn to behave graciously.
Sushil Bhattacharjee, Frederick, Maryland, USA

Who can beat Manmohan Singh?
Gurpreet, CA, USA
It was so nice of Sonia to understand the situation. It was a very selfless act. India has undergone a lot of ups and downs. India needs a wise leader. Who can beat Manmohan Singh? A man with a wise head on his shoulders. Manmohan Singh has done a lot for the country when he was Finance Minister. Sonia Gandhi is a good candidate too, but she will always carry a label of being a foreigner. I am so happy that India is going to get well educated P.M.
Gurpreet, CA, USA

This was a good decision. It will save India from further political, social, economic and financial turmoil. Manmohan Singh will make a much better Prime Minister than Sonia Gandhi.
Rajat Bhatia, Florida, USA

This is an unusual sacrifice which will give Mrs. Gandhi an unending honour in the years ahead. It will place her in an ever glorious history. But did she think that by doing what she is going to do, she is fulfilling what BJP desired? Once she is a citizen of India, she has definitely every right to do politics and to be the PM, if people and her partymen approves. Those who see her Italian-birth as 'the factor', they are simply racist and who does not know that racism is one of the vilest problems in the present time? Do democracy and racism go hand in hand?
Goutam Roy, Plymouth, UK

Manmohan Singh is just what India needs right now. Someone who understands finance and the need for economic reforms. The people of India need the tools to make money, feed and clothe their families and buy some comforts. Once there is money, the other chips will fall into place: education, sanitation, health, human rights, rule of law, reduction in corruption, etc. All the hue and cry about dividing the country over religion will fade away and these states will want to be a part of an India that gives them economic progress.
Sonali, New York, USA

Sonia picked Manmohan Singh as the best candidate for prime minister of India. He can improve India's economy. Results are started coming -Today Indian stock market is up. India's future is bright.
Upkar Chopra, Alexandria, VA, USA

Manmohan Singh is an intellectual and worthy for the post
Deepti, Bellevue, USA
Manmohan Singh is an intellectual and worthy for the post of Prime Minister. After days of shame and despair over the sycophancy that plagues Indian politics, to see a foreign born Mrs Gandhi as PM who doesn't even have any qualifications to hold the post other than being part of a political family would have created a huge embarrassment to us all with her poor performance. Now we can finally breathe with relief!
Deepti, Bellevue, USA

A man of integrity, intellect, high education, and experience, Singh has matured into a good politician as well. But whether he will be an effective statesman of a complex country remains to be seen.
Shreedhar, Cupertino, CA, USA

I don't mind Manmohan Singh becoming PM. In fact, it will be good for the country as he is an extremely capable guy and architect of Indian reforms. But I suspect this is just a ploy by Sonia to gather more emotional support as she did earlier when she resigned when the foreign origin issue was raised in Congress by Pawar and his supporters. Still, I have some faint hope that India's pride will not be hurt.
Sharad, USA

She chose to ignore the mandate of the largest democracy of the world
Pal Anand, Vancouver, Canada
Sonia Gandhi is dogmatic by nature. She is characterized by an authoritative, arrogant assertion of unproved or improvable principles. She chose to ignore the mandate of the largest democracy of the world in declining the PM post. It is the blackest day in the history of Indian politics which is riddled with narrow-mindedness, religious fanaticism and extreme bigotry.
Pal Anand, Vancouver, Canada

I wish politicians in India will follow suit and put the nation above personal gain. I am not a big fan of the congress party, but I feel that Ms. Sonia Gandhi would have made a good PM. Her foreign origins do not matter. It's a shame that she has chosen not to be the PM. The BJP (shame on them) needs to accept the reality and shut up, and learn a lesson from this debacle that religion has no place in Indian politics.
Prasad Shastri, Philadelphia, USA

Sonia Gandhi is a shrewd operator. It is much better to control power without the day-to-day rigours of a premier's job - just ask Condoleezza Rice.
Guy Kirkwood, France

She has no business to exploit the emotions of illiterate poor Indians in the name of Widow of slain PM. If at all she is so inclined to serve the people of India she should take up social service like Mother Teresa. This will be her real tribute to her late husband and indeed a genuine service to the people of India.
G A Shah, Amdavad, India.

The decision taken by Sonia Gandhi exhibits her temptation to clarify the fact that her ambition is not primarily to be the PM of largest democracy of the world but in fact shows her desire to make India a truly secular democratic nation.
Abdul Ahad, Peshawar,Pakistan

Sonia Gandhi has shown great maturity and taken the only step that would have silenced her critics and held the coalition together.
Capt.B.S.Rao, Bangalore / India

This whole escapade is rapidly turning into farce
Hetal Patel, Pinner, UK
If she had no interest in becoming PM why did she contest the general election in the first place .This may be obvious but surely any fool knows that if you become leader of the open party there is a chance you will have the highest office in the land some day? This whole escapade is rapidly turning into farce and again it shows the ignorance of those who voted these sycophants back into power...
Hetal Patel, Pinner, UK

She should take it, she won fair and square. She has only declined because racists in the BJP coalition are threatening her. If that was happening here there would be an uproar about it.
Wai, Bury, UK

Pity she did not listen to her inner voice before accepting the leadership of her party. Now there are bound to be an unknown number of disappointed voters. At the least, she should have accepted the job and then quit after a year. This is not very good news for Indian politics.
Mike, Calcutta

This is a very bold, mature and clever decision that will definitely block the BJP's nation wide campaign against her, saying that she is of foreign origin. This dramatic move eliminates the threat of the BJP getting the upper hand. More over by taking such a brave decision and announced it in such a dramatic situation, she bagged an ever green reputation which clearly separates her from the rest of the politicians.
Physel Poilil, Doha - Qatar

A very wise and calculated political move
Ajay, IL, USA
It is a very wise and calculated political move. She knew that she won't last long in the PM's post and that would also endanger Rahul Gandhi's chances of becoming PM in future.
Ajay, IL, USA

The people of India have made the conscious decision to give Sonia Gandhi and the Congress party the mandate to lead the country. As the leader of the most dominant political party in independent India, Sonia Gandhi, who sought such a mandate, should consider the "Voice of India" stronger than her "Inner Voice".
Anand Narayanan, Lubbock, USA

A brilliant and very wise move. Better to control the show from behind the curtain, rather than be a constant thorn in the flesh of the intolerant. She has pulled the rug from under their feet!
Minnie Khadim Ali Kuhn

I really admire Sonia Gandhi for making this courageous decision. Also, I appreciate the fact that she revived the Congress Party from the doldrums.
Rachna Kumar, New Delhi, India

I am impressed with her character
Vikram Singh, Mumbai, India
I was not particularly fond of Sonia Gandhi when she and her party won the recent elections, but considering such a selfless act...I am impressed with her character and now actually wish she does take back her decision and becomes PM.
Vikram Singh, Mumbai, India

Time and again Sonia has shown maturity in handling political situations. This time she showed that she is a unique leader who is not power hungry. I really admire her character and I hope that she will guide Congress and the country, even in the future. With Sonia out of the premiership competition, I wonder which non-issue will be on BJP's agenda next??
Ritwij Kulkarni, NY, USA

This news comes as a big relief. Mrs Gandhi may have declined the PM post for whatever reasons best known to her, but it is indeed a good one for the country. India is such a complicated country and managing it requires such experience and knowledge which Mrs Gandhi does not possess.
Balaji Raghavan, Boston, USA

She has proven herself to be a truly selfless leader
Arif Shah, Karachi, Pakistan
Hats off to Sonia Gandhi. She has proven herself to be a truly selfless leader in 'humbly declining' the post of PM. As a Pakistani, I can only wish our leaders learn a thing or two from this incredible woman, and indeed - democracy. Our politicians are too concerned with power for themselves, instead of the better good of the country - Musharraf excluded.
Arif Shah, Karachi, Pakistan

While it nice to know that people in my country don't think it is abnormal for a foreigner to be in politics, what is important is that no other country has entrusted the most important Government post to a foreign born person? I don't like the BJP for their religious zeal and the violence that follows, but I also equally hate sycophancy. The congress seems to be sycophants of the Gandhi family? Gandhi family members lack the qualification and experience to take over the reins of our country. What matters to the present generation and I am one of them, is self-respect and national pride. We want educated, experienced and respectable people holding government posts.
Padma Venkataraman, Evanston, IL

The pride and dignity of India has been saved by Sonia (aka Antonia). The blood and sacrifice of the freedom fighters would have gone to waste. Our honour has been saved. Mr Man Mohan Singh will make a great PM. He is above petty politics.
Kapil, Los Angeles, USA

Those who favour Sonia Gandhi should go and ask her when she accepted her Indian citizenship? And if she is an Indian why she still has her Italian citizenship. What work she has done for India and how much she understand India.

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