I owed it to the people of India to respond to Advani: PM (Lead)April 15th, 2009 - 4:54 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, April 15 (IANS) Showing a more aggressive face on the eve of polls, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh admitted Wednesday that his decision to hit back at Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani in recent days had been a conscious choice as he owed it to himself and the people of India.
“Any serious political observer knows my remarks on Advani are true. I owe it to myself and the people of India to show where the shoe pinches. Enough is enough,” Manmohan Singh asserted at an interaction with members of the Editors’ Guild.
His reply was in response to a specific question on whether his recent sharp language against Advani was conscious or impulsive and whether a certain bitterness had crept into their relationship.
He said the reason he held his fire so long was that he had not been named the prime ministerial candidate till recently.
Over the last week, Manmohan Singh’s retorts have been pointed especially after Advani repeatedly taunted him for being a “weak” prime minister, for “devaluing” the office of prime minister by allegedly deferring on important policy matters to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and not agreeing to a TV debate with him.
The prime minister’s first riposte came at an interaction with about 100 women journalists in the capital where he tore into Advani’s record as home minister when the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government was in power.
“What is the record of Advaniji? He was present at the time when Babri Masjid was demolished. If he was a strong leader, he would have staked his reputation in preventing the carnage.”
He then pointed out that the BJP government had to send its foreign minister to talk to the Taliban in Kandahar and referred to the Gujarat riots which took place during Advani’s tenure as home minister.
While admitting that that he may not be as good a speaker as Advani, the prime minister averred that he never shied away from tough decisions.
“I believe that the proof of the pudding is in the eating,” he said.
However, Manmohan Singh reserved his best for Advani at a press conference in Mumbai on Monday.
“Mr Advani has the unique ability to combine strength in speech with weakness in action… I will not be found weeping in a corner when hoodlums tear down a centuries old mosque,” said the prime minister.
“Weakness or strength does not come from loud speaking. It comes from your capacity to react on time,” Manmohan Singh said at the conference.
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