Days after Manmohan Singh’s former media adviser Sanjaya Baru’s book projecting him as a weak Prime Minister kicked up a storm, the PMO Friday cited economic data to claim “unprecedented development” in the past decade. Singh’s current media adviser Pankaj Pachauri said this would not have been possible if the Prime Minister was indeed weak.
Refuting the charge that Singh has been a silent Prime Minister, Pachauri said although the PM had delivered 1,198 speeches and his office had issued many press releases, they were never highlighted sufficiently in the media which is more interested in politics, sports and entertainment and not in issues like the economy, development, agriculture, science and education on which the PM chose to speak or issue statements.
“GDP and per capita income has grown three times in the past 10 years. In villages, minimum wages have also gone three times more. It shows government has been working continuously. But the people are not getting to know about this work because the media’s priorities are different. If the PM had been weak, the (economic) figures related to our country would not been strong. These figures show the PM was working and he always believed that his work would speak for him,” Pachauri said.
However, he conceded that UPA II had not been as much a success as UPA I because of the global slowdown. He said Singh preferred to talk about politics only on the floor of the House “but Parliament has not had enough chances for him to speak about what he wants to speak on the floor of the House”.
Asked to rate himself as a communications adviser given that communication given out by the PMO did not interest the media by his own admission and there is a perception that Singh is loathe to face media grilling, he said he had a busy stint. “But I cannot rate as I have nobody to compare myself with.”
He did not comment either on Baru’s book, The Accidental Prime Minister, or former coal secretary P C Parakh’s Crusader or Conspirator?, saying the PMO had nothing more to add to the statements that it had issued.
He did not answer a question about whether an advance copy of Baru’s book was given to the PM.