Deccan Chronicle

PM office denies Sanjaya Baru book claims on Manmohan Singh, 'commentary smacks of fiction'

Deccan Chronicle | DC Correspondent

Published on: April 12, 2014 | Updated on: Invalid date

Book claims PM had little control over cabinet; Sonia Gandhi decided on files

Cover of Sanjaya Baru's (right) book 'The Accidental Prime Minister' (left) (Photo: PTI)

Cover of Sanjaya Baru's (right) book 'The Accidental Prime Minister' (left) (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: The Prime Minister's Office has reacted strongly to a book written by former adviser to Manmohan Singh Sanjaya Baru where he claimed that Singh allowed Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to undermine his authority.

The PMO stated, "It is an attempt to misuse a privileged position and access to high office to gain credibility and to apparently exploit it for commercial gain."

In his book, ex-advisor gives an insight into the "cautious equation" between Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and PM's "often troubled" associations with his ministers.

Denying all claims, PMO discredits the book as 'fiction', saying, "The commentary smacks of fiction and coloured views of a former adviser."

Sanjaya Baru's book, "The Accidental Prime Minister", was published on Friday, days after India began its five-week election.

The memoirs show the Prime Minister as subservient to a woman without an official government position. "You must understand one thing. I have come to terms with this," Baru recalled the Prime Minister telling him in 2009.

"There cannot be two centres of power. That creates confusion. I have to accept that the party president is the centre of power. The government is answerable to the party."

His book portrays Singh, 81, as an admirable man who held every important position in economic policymaking - including as finance minister when India embraced radical reforms in 1991 - before he became Prime Minister in 2004.

Singh also made history, becoming India's first Prime Minister from a minority community - he is a Sikh - and serving for longer than anyone other than a Nehru-Gandhi.

"On the other hand, the public perception that he accomplished this feat through unquestioning submissiveness lies at the heart of the image problem that came to haunt Dr. Singh," Baru said in his book.

Baru described Singh as an enigmatic man of few words who confessed when he became Prime Minister that he was not prepared for the role and shied away from telling his own "powerful tale".

But he said Singh's failure to assert himself after the Congress party was re-elected in 2009 proved to be a fatal flaw that weakened his authority and left him "in office" with some authority but not "in power".

He said that Singh conceded most of his turf as Prime Minister to Sonia Gandhi and senior cabinet ministers.

"The politically fatal combination of responsibility without power and governance without authority meant that Dr. Singh was unable, even when he was aware, of checking corruption in his ministry without disturbing the political arrangement over which he nominally presided," Baru wrote.

Reportedly, BJP also attacked Congress over the same, saying it has proven true its charge of a dual power centre involving Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh in which she had the final word.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister P Chidambaram too rejected suggestions that it was Congress President Sonia Gandhi who was running UPA-II.

"I don't," Chidambaram said when asked whether he would agree with the claim that Sonia held control of the governments.

Answering a question whether in the past 10 years never was there an occasion when the PM had to go to No 10, Janpath for clearance, he said never in the past 10 years the prime minister has told him that he had to "go back and ask someone" to take decisions

"We are in a party democracy.  There are decisions and decisions.  Some decisions can be taken within the government. Some have to be taken only after consultation with the party. This is political party government," he siad.

"If it is a political decision which requires political consultation, well, I myself have taken it to the Core Group," Mr Chidambaram added. 


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