Kolkata/New Delhi: Ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s much awaited media
interaction Wednesday morning, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
Tuesday upped its ante with L.K. Advani once again calling him a
“weak prime minister” and criticising him for his inability to
counter corruption charges against the Congress-led central
government. His party colleague Rajnath Singh also asked UPA
chairperson Sonia Gandhi to “speak up” on the issues of corruption
and black money.
The main opposition party said that the prime minister needed to
break the silence on the government’s stand on all the corruption
scandals plaguing it, as also on the issues of inflation and
accumulation of black money that were of great concern to the
Manmohan Singh will meet TV editors at his official 7 Race Course
Road residence Wednesday morning, ahead of the budget session of
parliament beginning next week, with public confidence in his
government at an all-time low and the opposition cornering it on
corruption and inflation that the government has been slow to
Addressing a public rally in Kolkata, Advani said: “When I had
said during the 2009 Lok Sabha election campaign that I have seen
all the prime ministers since Jawaharlal Nehru but I feel pity for
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh because I have never seen such a
weak prime minister, many people said that I should not say this
because many people feel bad about it.”
Earlier, during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections campaign, Advani as
also some other BJP leaders had targeted Manmohan Singh and
repeatedly called him the weakest prime minister India has had.
But the strategy backfired as the BJP-led National Democratic
Alliance (NDA) lost to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)
spearheaded by the Congress, which regained power with a handsome
“At that time (2009), I had said that being a good person is fine.
But if a good person is weak and he becomes prime minister then he
can never stand up against corruption charges and scams. In the
last few months, my words have been proved true. The Supreme Court
has several times scolded the government,” said Advani.
Speaking later, former party president Rajnath Singh asked: “Why
is the main leader of Congress, Sonia Gandhi, on whose whims the
government runs, maintaining an unprecedented silence on the issue
of black money? I feel surprised. She speaks up on every issue but
why is she not speaking up on the issue of black money?”
Earlier this month, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said
$462 billion to $1.4 trillion in black money is estimated to have
been stashed abroad by Indians and all steps were being taken to
bring it back. But the names of the perpetrators cannot be
revealed yet, he said.
“Common people of this country want to hear from you, Soniaji,
what is your stand on the issue of black money. First of all, you
have to clarify your stand, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
will clarify his stand on the issue,” said Singh.
In the same breath, Rajnath Singh also mocked the external affairs
minister for making a wrong speech at the United Nations General
“It seems that Congress leaders have lost their mental balance.
Foreign Minister of India S.M. Krishna made a wrong speech at an
international forum and read out the speech which was meant to be
read out by the minister of Portugal. He has made a mockery of
India,” he said, as he and other BJP leaders launched a broadside
against the omissions and commissions of the government and the
Advani also demanded another joint parliamentary committee (JPC)
probe in both Commonwealth Games and Adarsh Society scams.
“I want to say in this public rally that when opposition demands
JPC probe, that means that there should be JPC probe in all the
corruption cases in recent times. Without this, the opposition
will not be satisfied,” he asserted.
The BJP leader in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, expressed concern
over media reports that one lakh phones were tapped every year.
“There is an apprehension this is a misuse of power that is taking
place and indiscriminate bugging is going on,” Jaitely said in
“It is extremely important that the government clarify how many of
these phones are really being bugged across the country and
authoritatively clarify that phones are being tapped only on those
considerations with are permitted by law and not otherwise,” he
In New Delhi, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said the prime
minister should break his silence on the 2G and S-band spectrum
controversies as well as on inflation and black money when he
addresses the media on Wednesday.
“We certainly expect him to talk on the three issues (2G, S-band
and inflation)…,” Sitharaman said. She added that he should also
give his views on black money that was playing havoc with the
“Does the government have any intention to tackle it?” she asked.
Sitharaman said the issue of India’s space agency being involved
in the S-band spectrum controversy was important as it related to
the country’s security. “Why was there no proper process (in
allocation)? That is something which we want the PM to address,”
The Congress predictably hit back, likening Advani to an “old
gramophone record” for repeating “baseless charges” against
“Advani is like an old gramaphone record. He is stuck on the same
old personal charges against Manmohan Singh. All those allegations
were rejected by the people of India in the last Lok Sabha polls
and later,” Congress spokesman Manish Tewari told reporters.