SOMEHOW he remains a figure of unruffled equanimity. As members of parliament erupt, banging their desks and screeching with rage, Manmohan Singh sits stiff, silent and smiling. For the past week opposition partiesthe Hindu nationalist BJP lined up unusually with the Communistshave been in a frenzy, accusing the prime minister of lying to parliament and of dismally weak leadership. They have repeatedly called on Singh to quit. For the moment, he is going nowhere. The furore follows publication by the Hindu, via WikiLeaks, of embarrassing American diplomatic cables that include an envoys account of meeting officials of the ruling Congress party before a confidence vote in July 2008. The diplomat said they showed him two chests full of cash to bribe opposition MPsthe going rate was $2.2m each. Singh narrowly won the parliamentary vote, which had been called over a controversial civil-nuclear deal with the United States. The cable seemed to confirm what many long assumed. In it, Congress members bragged about how they could even offer opposition MPs jet planes for their votes, yet fretted over how crooked parliamentarians failed to keep their word. Pressed about the affair on March 18th, Singh 'absolutely denied any bribes. A lie, howled the opposition, insisting on a special parliamentary debate to discuss his statement. On March 23rd they got it, after the BJP stormed out of a session on financial reforms. The drama will take a toll even on the serene Singh. A run of corruption scandals has already battered his government. Now his political judgment looks impaired. Unedifying was his claim that, since voters re-elected Congress in 2009, it was somehow irrelevant to ask whether MPs were bribed earlier. Yet India is unlikely to get a new prime minister soon. Congress hopes a bright showing in state elections next monthin West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Keralawill change the political momentum. Even if it does not, the party will shun a reshuffle at the top. Sonia Gandhi, Congresss boss, who would have been prime minister herself but for the accident of being born in Italy, is at least as responsible for the governments poor political choices. If the technocratic Singh were forced out, attention would turn to her. No obviously better prime minister stands by to replace Singh. The likeliest candidate is Rahul Gandhi, Sonias son and the scion of Indias chief political dynasty. Most assume he does not want to step up until elections in 2014. Some in Congress think he will never be ready. Another leaked cable, gleefully reproduced in the press this week, passed on observations by a friend of the Gandhi family, in 2005. Rahul, the friend said, was proving to be a lacklustre leader, with 'personality problems that 'are severe enough to prevent him from functioning as PM. Economist