HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

'Singh avoided limelight for Sonia, Rahul’s sake'

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, April 15, 2014
First Published: 00:20 IST(15/4/2014) | Last Updated: 01:39 IST(15/4/2014)

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s trademark low-key style of functioning and "silence" may have created an enduring political enigma, but he deliberately avoided being in the limelight in case he outsized his party boss Sonia Gandhi, Singh’s former adviser Sanjaya Baru claims in his new book.

"He did not want to become more popular with the media and the general public than Sonia," Baru writes. His book, ‘The Accidental PM: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh’, was published on Friday. Singh’s spokesman has dismissed the book as an incorrect interpretation of the PM’s 10 years in power.

"Whenever a TV channel or news magazine conducted an opinion poll and showed that his popularity, while rising, was a few notches below that of Sonia, he would feel relieved. ‘Good,’ he would say, with a mischievous smile."

Baru narrates an incident in which Singh snapped at him for trying to play up his role in NREGA.

Shortly after being appointed the Congress general secretary, Rahul Gandhi had led a delegation to greet Singh on his birthday and urged him to expand the scope of NREGA to the entire country. Baru send out text messages to editors saying Singh had already considered the expansion. When Singh came to know about the SMS, he called Baru and said: "I do not want you to project my image."

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