Indian prime minister's half-brother joins opposition

April 26, 2014 - 5:23:53 pm

NEW DELHI: Indian premier Manmohan Singh, whose ruling Congress party is trailing in election opinion polls, has suffered another blow with his half-brother opting to support the Hindu nationalist opposition, according to media reports Saturday.

"I feel very sad. I have no control. They are all adults," Singh told reporters in New Delhi, responding to the news as India's marathon general election heads into its final stretch.

Singh's half-brother, Daljeet Singh Kohli, a businessman in northern Punjab state, was welcomed Friday into the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fold by the party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

Kohli joined the BJP at an election rally in Amritsar, home to the Sikh Golden Temple, dealing another blow to the prime minister who has been accused by the opposition of being one of India's weakest and most ineffective leaders.

"My brother has worked very hard for the country... but he was not given his due by the party (Congress) so that is why I joined the BJP," Kohli told CNN-IBN television station.

The latest embarrassment for the Indian leader comes on the heels of the release of a tell-all book by a former adviser to Singh describing him as a powerless dummy prime minister.

Former Singh aide Sanjaya Baru's book "The Accidental Prime Minister", published earlier this month, portrays the prime minister as a stooge to ruling Congress party president Sonia Gandhi who called the shots although she holds no official government position.

Singh, 81, grew up in poverty in a large Sikh family who migrated from Pakistan when the Indian subcontinent was partitioned in 1947 following independence from Britain.

Singh -- credited with unleashing radical reforms in 1991 when he was finance minister -- is retiring after 10 years at the helm.

Gandhi chose the family loyalist to become premier after she led the party to victory in 2004.

Numerous polls have forecast the defeat of Congress by the BJP in the staggered five-week parliamentary election which winds up on May 12 with results due four days later.

The Congress party's rule has been marred by corruption scandals, slow economic growth and stubbornly high inflation. (AFP)

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