New Delhi, July 9 (IANS) Reeling under an image crisis, the government Monday stepped up its offensive to counter Time magazine's description of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as an "underachiever", and attacked the BJP for making too much out of it.
Home Minister P. Chidambaram described the Bharatiya Janata Party's criticism of Manmohan Singh's performance as "distasteful" and voiced confidence that the government was confident of taking the economy out of the present trough and back to the trajectory of high growth.
"I think the most charitable way to describe that comment is extremely distasteful. I wonder what he (BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad) said when he read the article on (then prime minister Atal Bihari) Vajpayeeji in June 2002," said Chidambaram.
He was reacting to the BJP's demand for the resignation of the prime minister in the wake of Time magazine's article
Chidambaram stressed that the United Progressive Alliance-II was confident that it would overcome the present economic situation.
"Short answer to your question can PM rouse himself ? Answer is yes. This government will get India out of the present trough. We will get back to high growth...That is the answer to the Time Magazine article," he said.
Chidambaram also reminded that the magazine also recalled the splendid achievement of UPA-I.
He taunted the BJP by reminding them of a Time magazine article in 2002 after the Gujarat riots which criticised Vajpayee.
"The title of that article was 'Asleep at The Wheel' and the last line of that article, Mr Prasad should read," he said.
Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath, too, rallied to the defence of the government and attacked the Time magazine for its bias.
"Everyone has their own opinion. But, Time magazine, first see what is happening in US and Europe, and then compare with India," Nath told reporters here.
"Why are they making such a big issue out of an article in a magazine," said Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni.
Earlier, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari questioned the magazine's rationale for taking such a view of the prime minister.
"In the past eight years, the UPA government under the leadership of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has provided political stability, social cohesion, internal amity, economic development and a greater role for India in international affairs," he said.
"This by no stretch of imagination can be called or characterised or labelled as an underachievement," he added.
The Bharatiya Janata Party Sunday had used the Time magazine story dubbing Manmohan Singh as an "underachiever' to attack the government and pointed to the magazine's March 26 issue which featured its star chief minister, Gujarat's Narendra Modi, with the caption: "Modi means business, but can he lead India".
"India's image has been spoiled, it is sad that a conception is being formed internationally that India is among the most corrupt nations," said Prasad.
"Manmohan Singh used to publicly say that you criticise me, but you never notice what the international media writes about me. Now, the world is saying what the people of the country have been saying for a long time," he said.
Asking if Manmohan Singh was "up to the job?", the article said: "The laws that could help create growth and jobs are stuck in parliament, sparking concerns that politicians have lost the plot in their focus on short-term populist measures that will win votes."
"India is stalling. To turn it around, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh must emerge from his private and political gloom," the magazine said.
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