Manmohan a puppet, lying to save face: BJP


New Delhi: Intensifying its attack against former PM Manmohan Singh, BJP on Wednesday branded the former Prime Minister a “puppet” and accused him of “lying with a straight face” after he charged the Modi government of harping on the issue of “corruption” during UPA era to divert people’s attention.

Leading the charge was BJP president Amit Shah who told reporters that scams involving Rs. 12 lakh crore had been perpetrated during Dr. Singh’s 10-year rule and he “cannot run away from its responsibility” by merely saying that he had not “enriched” himself.

“I believe that a Prime Minister’s responsibility is not limited to not doing corruption himself but to also ensure that others are not allowed to do corruption. He has to root out corruption from the system. Under Singh’s rule, scams of [Rupees] 12 lakh crore occurred and Congress cannot run away from its responsibility,” Mr. Shah said.

“Debate is not over simply because you [Dr. Singh] do not yourself engage in corruption. A Prime Minister is expected to provide corruption-free governance,” he said.

At an event in New Delhi earlier in the day, Dr. Singh launched a sharp attack on the BJP government for its frequent reference to scams under his tenure and asserted: “I have not used my public office to enrich myself, to enrich my family or my friends. The BJP government keeps on harping on this theme of corruption because it wants to divert people’s attention to non-issues.”

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said Dr. Singh had broken his silence after being “exposed” by “books after books”, “facts after facts” and not only by agencies like CAG and CBI but also by “his own bureaucrats”, a reference to allegations by former TRAI chairman Pradip Baijal that Dr. Singh had warned him of harm if he did not cooperate on 2G telecom licenses.

Attacking the former Prime Minister for his assertion that he had not enrich himself or his family, Mr. Patra said Dr. Singh was a “shadow Prime Minister” who used his office to “enrich” 10 Janpath, a reference to Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Alleging that Dr. Singh’s uttering were “full of lies”, BJP secretary Siddharth Nath Singh said: “One must give credit to him that he is (the) best politician India has produced in the last many decades… He can lie with a straight face and say I have not done anything wrong.”