Underlining that Manmohan Singh had to work under the “limitation” of being “announced” the prime minister by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley Tuesday praised Singh’s “personal integrity” and described him as “a man of scholarship”.
“There were two strong qualities of the PM that I discovered. Firstly, whenever you discussed a serious subject with the PM, he came out as a man of scholarship. He was what we call a ‘syana aadmi’. His words were measured and he would reflect before making a comment. Secondly, his personal integrity was always above board. With an element of scholarship, he was always well-read and well-prepared on any subject that he dealt with,” Jaitley said in an article on his website.
Jaitley, however, criticised Singh’s leadership. “And yet, when he addressed the country, he never came out as a leader. It was his inability to overrule people which affected his functioning. He did not have the last word. As curtains draw to a close…the PM goes out with dignity and grace,” Jaitley said, pointing to Sonia Gandhi-led NAC’s obstacles against his reforms, Rahul Gandhi’s public rejection of his cabinet’s Ordinance, his inability to overrule the then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee over introduction of retrospective taxation, and failing to cancel allegedly rigged allocation of coal blocks.
Jaitley also suggested that Singh will be more remembered for his stint as finance minister. “Unquestionably Singh was a very good finance minister,” he said.
“He will remain an elder statesman and a man of credibility to guide the nation. Only if he had stood up at the right time and disagreed he would have been regarded with still a greater honour,” Jaitley said.
BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar, meanwhile, said the Congress will find a scapegoat in Singh in its attempt to save Sonia and Rahul from criticism. “The mantra in Congress is to blame others in case of something bad. Therefore, PM will be blamed and others too,” Javadekar said.
Former Apple executive and Dwarka MLA Adarsh Shastri has also been included in the spokespersons’ list.