Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy yesterday called beleaguered Prime Minister Manmohan Singh one of the “cleanest and nicest politicians” in India. He also claimed that the state flourished the most under the economist Indian premier.
“He is the nicest and the cleanest politician in the country, and for Kerala, he gave everything we asked. I would undoubtedly say Kerala’s golden period was under him,” Chandy told reporters after the weekly cabinet meeting yesterday.
“I will say it was under him that Kerala got everything we asked — investments worth more than Rs70,000 crore — in the past one decade,” added Chandy.
Chandy’s defence of Manmohan Singh came following a fresh controversy triggered by the publication of a book “The Accidental Prime Minister: The making and unmaking of Manmohan Singh” written by the Prime Minister’s former media advisor Sanjaya Baru.
The book suggests that the Prime Minister’s Office did not call the shots when it came to major decision-making, but 10 Janpath, residence of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, did.
Asked if Baru could have had any ulterior motive in the timing of the release of his book with the ongoing Lok Sabha election, Chandy said one should wait for the poll results for an answer.
While claims made in Baru’s book are being used by the opposition to allege that the PMO’s authority was undermined by Sonia Gandhi, the author has also come under attack from the Congress for sensationalising the book to market it.
Chandy also credited the prime minister with according classical status to the Malayalam language. “Do you know that it was he (Manmohan Singh) who was single handedly responsible for giving Malayalam language classical status,” Chandy said, adding that it was the prime minister’s intervention that helped overturn an earlier rejection.
Chandy became chief minister for the first time in 2004 (when he replaced veteran colleague A.K. Antony following the 2004 Lok Sabha election debacle in Kerala) a few months after Manmohan Singh assumed office as prime minister for the first time.
Meanwhile, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra called Manmohan Singh a “super PM” and defended him against being called India’s weakest prime minister. Asked by reporters in Amethi about Sanjaya Baru’s book, Priyanka said: “Only Manmohan Singh was super PM.”
Earlier, Manmohan Singh’s daughter Upinder Singh described the book as “nothing but a stab in the back”. In an interview to a newspaper, she accused Baru of violating trust and branded the book an “unethical, mischievous” exercise.
“While I am not speaking on behalf of the prime minister, we are extremely angry at the exaggerated level of access the author has ascribed to himself,” she was quoted as saying.
BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, however, used Upinder Singh’s statement as an affirmation of the allegations in the book.
“I read in the papers that the prime minister’s family is unhappy with Sanjay Baru’s book. His daughter said Baru betrayed, which means the facts are right,” Modi said at a rally.