Time terms Manmohan an underachiever (Second Lead)

July 8th, 2012 - 10:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, July 8 (IANS) Time magazine in a harsh critique of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has termed him an “underachiever” - one who “seems unable to control his ministers” and is “unwilling to stick his neck out on reform” at a time when the Indian economy is slowing.

The US magazine has featured Manmohan Singh on the cover of its Asia edition dated July 16, 2012 with the blurb: “The Underachiever. India needs a reboot. Is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh up to the job?”. The issue comes three months after it featured Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on its cover and praised him for development of the state,

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), reacting promptly, said the magazine’s criticism of the prime minister had “reconfirmed” the views of people on the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

The Congress declined to comment, saying they had yet to go through the article.

The Time cover story, titled “A Man in Shadow”, says Singh “seems unable to control his ministers and - his new, temporary portfolio at the finance ministry notwithstanding - unwilling to stick his neck out on reforms that will continue the process of liberalisation he helped start”.

Manmohan Singh, 79, took over the finance portfolio after Pranab Mukherjee quit to fight the presidential race.

The Asia edition, which will be out next week, goes on to say: “Investors at home and abroad are beginning to get cold feet. Voters too are losing confidence, as rising inflation and a litany of scandals chip away at the government’s credibility.”

The magazine said at a time when India cannot afford a slowdown in economic growth, “laws that could help create growth and jobs are stuck in Parliament, sparking concerns that politicians have lost the plot in their focus on shorter-term, populist measures that will win votes.”

India’s economic growth slumped to nine-year low of 5.3 percent in the quarter ended March 31, 2012. The gross domestic product (GDP) growth fell to 6.5 percent in 2011-12 as compared to 8.4 percent in the previous year.

“India is stalling. To turn it around, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh must emerge from his private and political gloom,” the magazine adds of the prime minister who has been accused of “policy paralysis” by the opposition.

The UPA government has been shackled by the pulls and pressures of coalition partners, especially Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee who has staunchly opposed allowing foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail, which economists say will greatly help the economy.

Banerjee, a major coalition partner of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), reiterated her opposition to allowing FDI in multi-brand retail on Saturday in West Bengal. “That’s our government’s policy,” she said.

Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said he had not gone through the article and therefore could not comment. “Tomorrow (Monday) we will go through it,” he told IANS.

BJP spokesperson Tarun Vijay said the magazine has “reconfirmed what all Indians have felt”.

Another BJP spokesperson, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, said all that the prime minister had achieved “is corruption, scams and bad governance”.

However, Sharad Yadav, the Janata Dal-United president and convenor of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), did not share the BJP’s views.

Commenting on the Time article, Sharad Yadav said: “What is Time magazine?.. What relation do they have with us? Like the East India Company, they also aim to loot us.”

Time had featured Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on its cover in its March 26 issue, praising the BJP leader for development of the state in an article titled “Modi means business but can he lead India”. In the article, it says Modi is a firm, “no-nonsense leader” who can steer India out of a “mire of chronic corruption and inefficiency”.

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