The Washington Post on Wednesday said that no apology has been offered for an article written by the India bureau chief which called Manmohan Singh a 'silent' Prime Minister who has become 'a tragic figure'.
TV channels claimed that the Prime Minister's Office has sought an apology from the paper and said that its demand was accepted but the Washington Post vehemently denied it.
Simon Denyer, the bureau chief, in a tweet from his personal account responded to a reader saying: "@KabirTaneja Its not true. No threats were issued from their side, no apology was offered from mine".
After the Time magazine dubbed Manmohan Singh an "underachiever", the Washington Post article criticised him as a 'silent' Prime Minister who has become 'a tragic figure'.
"... the image of the scrupulously honorable, humble and intellectual technocrat has slowly given way to a completely different one: a dithering, ineffectual bureaucrat presiding over a deeply corrupt government," the article said.
The article said that under Singh, "economic reforms have stalled, growth has slowed sharply and the rupee has collapsed. But just as damaging to his reputation is the accusation that he looked the other way and remained silent as his cabinet colleagues filled their own pockets".
The UPA 2 government has been under tremendous pressure over the controversy surrounding the CAG report over the coal blocks allocation which stated that they caused a loss of Rs. 1.86 lakh crore to the exchequer.
A belligerent Opposition has been demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister over coal row and has disrupted Parliament stalling both Houses.
File photo of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Mumbai. AFP
The monsoon session which ends on Friday is about to be washed out because of Opposition's unrelenting stand.
The Post article talks about how Singh "introduced a series of policies that freed the Indian economy from suffocating state control and unleashed the dynamism of its private sector" and says that he "is in danger of going down in history as a failure".
A screen grab of the Washington Post story.
The Time magazine too had criticised Singh, who has been lauded for his pivotal role in liberalising the Indian economy, has been dubbed as an "underachiever" by a top US magazine, which says he appears "unwilling to stick his neck out" on reforms that will put the country back on growth path.
Singh, 79, is featured on the cover of Time magazine's Asia edition, which will be out next week. With his portrait in the background, the title on the cover reads The Underachiever — India needs a reboot.
A screengrab of the Time magazine cover that dubbed the PM as "underachiever".
'Is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh up to the job?' Time's report titled A Man in Shadow asks, adding that apart from facing the challenges of a slowdown in economic growth, huge fiscal deficit and a falling rupee, Congress party-led UPA coalition "has found itself fending off corruption scandals...."
"....investors 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.
Pointing towards Singh's fall "from grace," the magazine said, "in the past three years, the calm confidence he (Singh) once radiated has been absent. He seems unable to control his ministers and — his new, temporary portfolio at the finance ministry notwithstanding — unwilling to stick his neck out on reforms..."Congress, BJP lock horns
Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni on Wednesday termed as unfortunate the Washington Post report that has described Manmohan Singh as a silent Prime Minister, saying the government will seek an apology from the editor and publisher of the US daily.
"If the Washington Post has published such a statement for our Prime Minister, then I will strongly protest," she said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the Washington Post report has now made the Prime Minister's position untenable, adding that Manmohan Singh must resign immediately.
"It has taken a long (time) for the Washington Post to realise that the Prime Minister of India does not speak, and now not speaking proves his guilt as well. The position of the Prime Minister today is untenable," said BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy. "The BJP has been demanding his resignation, as an appropriate step. I hope his conscience pricks him and he decides to quit," he added.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut used the report to target the ruling UPA government, and said the paper had reflected the view of everybody in India.
"Not just the Washington Post, but every post says so. We are also saying that the Prime Minister and his whole government are inefficient. Everyday a new scam comes to light, the government is not functioning and the common man is suffering," said Raut.
"Considering these conditions of the country, I feel that the demand for Prime Minister's resignation is right. If we need to save the country, then we will have to remove this Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh)," he added.(With PTI, IANS, ANI inputs)
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The Prime Minister's criticism came less than two months after Britain's The Independent ran a report with the headline Manmohan Singh - India's saviour or Sonia's poodle?. (PTI Photo, File)