NEW DELHI: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has criticised PM Narendra Modi for keeping “quiet” over issues like beef controversy and Dadri lynching and asked him to give every Indian the confidence that in him “we have a prime minister who cares for our well-being”.
He also blamed BJP for the “unwanted bitterness” between it and Congress, saying it does not feel that it needs the opposition party in managing the country. “The public in our country expects the prime minister to take the lead in managing public opinion. But he (Modi) has never spoken; whether it is on the beef problem or whether it is what happened in Muzaffarnagar or elsewhere, he has kept quiet,” Singh, who was at the helm for 10 years during the UPA rule, told India Today in an interview.
He was asked if Modi’s attention has been distracted by issues like banning of beef, intolerance and the unfortunate killing of a Muslim in Uttar Pradesh over beef. Asked why Modi kept quiet, he said, “I don’t know. I cannot read his mind. But he is the prime minister of all the people of India and he must give every Indian the confidence that in him we have a prime minister who cares for our well-being.”
Pointing out that BJP stalwart and the first NDA prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee grew in office, Singh said Modi has great and unique opportunities. “In the hands of a purposeful government and wise leadership, there are enormous opportunities to make progress in the management of the economy and in containing social tensions,” he said. The Congress leader observed that relations with major powers has improved under Modi but added that it was also the case under the UPA.
He, however, criticised the Modi government’s handling of Pakistan and Nepal, saying its dealing with Pakistan was inconsistent. “It has been one step forward, two steps back.” He recalled that Modi had told him during an event to mark Sharad Pawar’s 75th birthday that the government was following his suggestion to him.
“I don’t think he would ever do that in public,” Singh shot back when asked if Modi was giving credit to him. The Prime Minister’s surprise stopover in Lahore on his way to India from Afghanistan was not thought through and there was no need to create an euphoria about it, he added.
Singh, a noted economist himself, also faulted the government’s economic policy and said the economy is not in good shape as it could be, “despite the fact that the situation today was much more favourable than it was when we, the Congress-led UPA, were in government.”
“Obviously, people (business community) don’t believe the government. When they go and call on the ministers, they say the right things, but when they come out, all of them say that nothing much has chaged… There is today a crisis of confidence in the government.”
Asked about the hostility between the treasury and opposition benches, he said tis is not good for democracy and the country. “There is unwanted bitterness between the two sides. It does not have to be that way,” he said, blaming BJP for this.