Take any leadership primer and you will find in it that a leader must have a vision, a plan or pathway to achieve that vision, ability to inspire team members or followers with whom he or she would carry out the plan and above all - integrity.
Integrity is not just pecuniary or financial honesty (that you will return the money entrusted to your care, that you will not steal, etc.). It goes beyond pecuniary honesty to cover in its reach truthfulness, fairness, and consistency of attitudes and actions.
Now, let us look at our politicians objectively and dispassionately. We find that most of them do not even have pecuniary or financial honesty. Why, because the public money is not safe with them, they will have their cut if not gobble up the entire thing. Newspapers and electronic news media are full of their misdeeds; I, therefore, need not elaborate further.
In terms of reputation, Manmohan Singh belongs to the very top among the honest politicians. But does he have integrity - let us examine in some detail.
a) Financial honesty : Yes.
b) Truthfulness : He keeps on giving clean chit to the Telecom minister A. Raja despite the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), TRAI, Central Vigilance Commission, and the Central Bureau of Investigation finding serious irregularities and favouritism in selling, at the minister's direct orders, 2-G spectrum to new companies in January 2008 at the 2001 prices and on first-come-first-served basis. There are so many other instances of Singh being economical with truth but the Raja episode alone punctures all his claims to truthfulness. He fails this test miserably.
c) Fairness : His selecting P.J. Thomas as the next central vigilance commissioner over the objections of the leader of the opposition, Sushma Swaraj, that Thomas, till the 31st August 2010 Telecom secretary under the minister A. Raja, was not a man of impeccable integrity, establishes the fact that Manmohan Singh is not fair. An 'F' again.
d) Consistency : CBI, directly under him, has been blowing hot and cold, sometime saying that it has sufficient proof to prosecute Mayawati, Laloo Prasad Yadav, and Mulayam Singh Yadav for having assets beyond legitimate means, and some other time that it does not have prosecutable evidence. And this depends on whether the ruling party does not need those politicians' support in parliament or it does. Manmohan Singh, therefore, can't be said to be consistent in his attitudes and in his actions. Yet another 'F'.
We have thus seen that most of our politicians, including the present prime minister, lack integrity, one of the very pre-requisites for leadership. These people, therefore, can not be called leaders. At best, they are people in the business of politics.