Wednesday, September 8, 2010

HEARSAY- new grapevine venture


with PM references on Nehru and Indira dispensations

The recent remarks by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh 
on the country's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru
appear to have rubbed 10 Janpath the wrong way, 
if party sources are to be believed.

Two major decisions of the PMO confirms in a way to drive home
the point that Madam is too upset with remarks of Dr Singh.

One uploading the verbatim of Prime Minister interaction with
editors print media . To clear the air of misunderstanding between
the PMO and AICC.For the sake of satisfying the highcommand. 
partly also to clear the air about China remark. 

A senior Union Minister asked will PMO dare upload China remark?

Second why no senior Minister AICC functionaries were
present during interaction. But senior officials of PMO were seated. 

Making things worse, a number of Union ministers, MPs and All India 
Congress Committee functionaries are reportedly upset at the manner 
in which Dr Singh -- at the media interaction with print media editors -- 
has tried to project himself a better administrator and manager than 
Nehru and even Indira Gandhi

Renu Mittal a senior commentator in her despatch also stated that PMO
ought to have taken a AICC functionary in the PM and media interaction.
Pranab Mukherjee or AK Antony should have been asked to assist PM.

But PMO clarified to 10 Janpath that media interaction was organised
because of many requests before PM - and was not official press conference
where AICC and PMO presence were a must. Clarifications have confused
the controversy further.

Highly placed sources say 10 Janpath has asked for a full transcript of the media 
interaction, where Dr Singh spoke with a great deal of confidence and assertiveness 
on a number of issues, including his handling of the Cabinet. His views on China  were said to be off the record, but a daily went ahead and published the news,  causing great embarrassment for Indian diplomats. No damage was done as China  has underplayed the remarks.

It is learnt that many top leaders have complained to Sonia Gandhi 
about the prime minister's remarks and have said
that it shows that Dr Singh is playing a game of one-upmanship vis-à-vis 
former leaders of the Congress party who are still regarded as icons by 
the party.

Dr Singh had decided to meet the editors after a large number of articles highlighted  the "free-for-all nature of his government with Cabinet colleagues and senior  leaders speaking out publicly against each other. Senior editors went to the  extent of penning editorials on the manner in which the UPA-II was being run  and the increasing drift which had set in.

Sources said rattled by the continuing criticism with the party remaining a 
mute spectator and offering no defence of the prime minister, Dr Singh 
decided to do the damage control on his own. It is learnt that even the 
Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni was not in the loop on 
this interaction. Nor was she asked to be present at the meeting.

A senior AICC functionary said for the Congressmen both Nehru and Indira 
Gandhi are revered leaders and for the prime minister to say that he is 
running a more cohesive cabinet than that of Nehru "leaves a bad taste in the mouth".

When the party spokesman was asked the question about Dr Singh comparing  himself to Nehru who was seen as the architect of modern India, the  spokesman failed to give any reply and chose to maintain silence on the issue.

Another overtly emphatic statement by the prime minister stating, 
"I am not retiring" has become a matter of intense speculation in 
the Congress circles, particularly since this was the second time 
that Dr Singh made the assertion.

Sources say the statement does not spell good news for the prime 
minister and is being seen as his way of putting at rest speculation 
of his disconnect with Sonia Gandhi and reports that he may well be 
on the way out.

A senior Congress leader read the entire message from the prime minister's  media interaction as a sure indicator that Dr Singh was under pressure from  the party and "otherwise a seasoned and smart man like him would never have  made comparisons with Nehru and Indira Gandhi as he did  just now". He said it showed that "all is not well between the top two of the party."

After stating that he would reshuffle his Cabinet, the prime minister 
clarified later that he since he was running a coalition government, he  
would undertake the exercise only after consulting the allies. He said that 
it is not yet certain whether the reshuffle would indeed take place but said 
if it does, it would be before the winter session of Parliament.

The prime minister emphasised that the reshuffle might not take place after 
all. The winter session begins on November 8. The exercise would obviously have to be done after consulting the Congress president and sources say  there are grave differences between the two on the issue.

But a quote from the prime minister which appears to have been 
underplayed by the media and which could be the most damaging was 
related to Rahul Gandhi . During his interaction, When Dr Singh was 
asked to react to Rahul Gandhi "spreading his wings and moving 
beyond the Youth Congress", he first laughed and then replied, 
"In politics, there is competition and everybody is looking for this chair."
Was the prime minister clearly indicating that Rahul was now eyeing 
his chair and he was looking at him as his immediate competitor. 
Interesting question, particularly if the comment is read with his 
definitive assertion, "I am not retiring".


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