Had advised PM to step down many times

DNA, July 05, 2014

Former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh was advised a number of times by his press advisor Sanjaya Baru to step down after he became ‘an object of ridicule’ following reports of his ‘failure as country’s political leader’, but why he hung on was best known to him.

Baru, who is the author of bestseller – The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh – and media advisor to the prime minister during UPA-1 regime, made this revelation here on Friday on the sidelines of the launch of CUTS International Public Policy Centre.

“I had asked him a number of times. I don’t know why he didn’t,” Baru said, when reporters asked him whether he ever advised Dr Singh to step down after his image got tarnished for failing to take control of the government.

“Manmohan Singh is a good man. But he became an object of ridicule due to the division between his executive and political powers,” Baru said adding, “unwillingness of Dr Singh to emerge as the country’s political leader created a vacuum. This election, people saw this vacuum.”

The middle class was yearning for the return of a more decisive political leadership and Narendra Modi filled in the gap, he added.

Baru, who claimed to have handed over a copy of his book to Dr Singh 10 days before its release, said, “I have mentioned only 50 per cent of what I know in the book.”

Baru’s book became the bestseller and was received with strong criticism from Congress upon its release. He was also accused of acting on the behest of BJP in getting the book released ahead of Lok Sabha polls.

On why he chose to release his book ahead of polls, Baru claimed he was under pressure from his publisher to release the book before people forget who Dr Manmohan Singh was. Also, he wanted people to read what he wrote. “I am happy it is a bestseller,” he said.

Asked whether his book influenced voters in favour of BJP, Baru said, “The book did help voters, especially young voters, to make up their opinion. Voters, like my daughter, who were in schools when UPA-1 was in power, voted for the first time. It did have an effect on them.”

He claimed people, including Congress spokespersons who had made scathing allegations at him after the launch of the book, now call him up to apologise after they read the content of the book.

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