HindustanTimes Mon,29 Dec 2014

Fighting graft was never PM's top priority: Baru

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, May 09, 2014
First Published: 00:52 IST(9/5/2014) | Last Updated: 02:02 IST(9/5/2014)

Fighting corruption was never Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s top most priority in the way piloting the 2008 Indo-US nuclear deal was, his former media advisor Sanjaya Baru said on Thursday.

Baru said that the issue of seeing the Indo-US deal through was a matter of national honour, apart from that of the government, as the cabinet had already approved it and that it had the potential of enhancing India’s global profile fundamentally. Besides, the deal had promised to go down in history as Singh’s “own personal legacy”.

On the other hand, the issue of corruption only impacted the government’s reputation and the country’s honour did not depend on it, he said. Second, Singh’s personal reputation was not at stake.

Baru claimed Singh had once confided in him about the fact that “nobody” had leveled corruption allegations against him and the allegations were against others in the government. “So, what can I do about it?” Baru said, quoting the Prime Minister.

 The former media adviser claimed that the UPA government would have fallen if Singh had become serious on tackling corruption with people such as the DMK and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar in the alliance.

Baru, who was Singh’s media advisor from 2004 to 2008, made the comments while participating in a discussion with news channel NDTV’s Barkha Dutt on Thursday night at the launch of his book ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’.

Unlike the issue of corruption, Singh had indeed asserted himself and demonstrated his resolve in getting approvals for the controversial Indo-US Civil Nuclear Agreements amid stiff opposition including from the then government allies, the Left, said Baru.

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