On the day Manmohan Singh was given a farewell by his staff, a senior BJP leader described him a wise and scholarly man, while another said he would be scapegoated for his party’s failure in the elections.
Praising Manmohan, Arun Jaitley wrote on his blog on Tuesday that the Prime Minister’s personal integrity was “above board”.
Listing the Prime Minister’s two strong qualities, he said: “Whenever you discussed a serious subject with the Prime Minister he came out as a man of scholarship. He was what we call a ‘syana aadmi (wise man). 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 wrote.
He said the Prime Minister “goes out with dignity and grace”.
“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 wrote on his blog.
Talking about his “limitation”, the senior BJP leader said: “He was literally a Prime Minister announced by Soniaji. He had to function within that limitation. “...When he addressed the country, he never came out as a leader. The reason for not coming out as a leader was clear. He never wanted to rock the boat. He knew that he was vested with limited power and on all major decisions he had to keep the party and its first family in good humour,” he wrote.
Jaitley recounted Manmohan’s “inability to overrule people which affected his functioning”. He listed the 2G scam, coal block allotments, the retrospective tax law as issues where the Prime Minister should have stood up.
“It was the inability to speak up within his own party that may compel historians to take a different view of the man,” he added.
Despite the stringent criticism that came his way during the last 10 years, history will judge him better, the Prime Minister had claimed lately.
As the spectre of defeat loomed large on the Congress, the BJP said the ruling party would never blame the Gandhis but make Manmohan a fall guy instead.
“The outgoing Prime Minister will be cursed more, and even today, a Planning Commission member (Arun Maira) has confirmed the worse arrangement of political power distribution in the Congress. This vindicates the BJP’s position that the Prime Minister is in office and not in power,” spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.
“We have nothing personal against Manmohan Singh. It is the Congress which has made a mockery of him and didn’t allow him to function properly. Manmohan Singh as the Finance Minister under former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao was more effective than as the Prime Minister under Sonia Gandhi,” Javadekar added.