Reeling under an image crisis, the government yesterday stepped up its offensive to counter Time magazine’s description of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as an “underachiever”, and attacked the BJP for making too much out of it.
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram described the BJP’s criticism of Manmohan Singh’s performance as distasteful. “I think the most charitable way to describe that comment is extremely distasteful. I wonder what he (BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad) said when he read the article on (then prime minister Atal Bihari) Vajpayeeji in June 2002,” he said.
He was reacting to the BJP’s demand for the resignation of the prime minister in the wake of Time magazine’s article Chidambaram stressed that the UPA-II was confident that it would overcome the present economic situation. “Short answer to your question can PM rouse himself ? Answer is yes. This government will get India out of the present trough. We will get back to high growth...That is the answer to the Time Magazine article,” he said. Chidambaram also reminded that the magazine also recalled the splendid achievement of UPA-I.
He taunted the BJP by reminding them of a Time magazine article in 2002 after the Gujarat riots which criticised Vajpayee. “The title of that article was ‘Asleep at The Wheel’ and the last line of that article, Mr Prasad should read,” he said.
Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath, too, rallied to the defence of the government and attacked the Time magazine for its bias. “Everyone has their own opinion. But, Time magazine, first see what is happening in US and Europe, and then compare with India,” Nath said.
Earlier, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari questioned the magazine’s rationale for taking such a view of the prime minister. “In the past eight years, the UPA government under the leadership of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has provided political stability, social cohesion, internal amity, economic development and a greater role for India in international affairs. This by no stretch of imagination can be called or characterised or labelled as an underachievement,” he said.