The BJP has targeted Congress with ammunition provided by a book written by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's former media adviser, saying that the UPA's dual power centre led to a "yearning" among the people for a "strong and decisive leadership" of Narendra Modi.
'The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh', written by Sanjaya Baru, claims that Singh was reduced to a figure-head with Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi calling the shots in the government. The book hit the stands on Friday.
Ex-PM aide Sanjay Baru drops book bomb, says Sonia ran govt
The BJP's campaign for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections has centered on the "decisive leadership" of its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and the party has played up the UPA government's alleged procrastinations on crucial policy matters.
"I have been saying from day one that the PM presides and madam decides. This has been proved by this book now," BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu said.
He said even this has been "outdated" now with the current norm being "PM presides, nobody decides."
Naidu said such a situation had caused a "yearning" among the people for a "strong and decisive leadership" of Modi.
BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said the book proves true the "fear" the party had been expressing over the years.
A discordant Manmohan-Mukherjee duet
"Between the two of them, the decision is taken by Sonia Gandhi," she said.
In his book, Baru quotes the PM as saying that the system of two power centres could not work and he had "to accept that the party president (Sonia Gandhi) is the centre of power".
"I have come to terms with this. There cannot be two centres of power. That creates confusion. I have to accept that the party president is the centre of power. The government is answerable to the party," Singh is quoted to have told his former media adviser soon after being re-elected in 2009.
The Prime Minister's Office, however, dismissed the claims saying they "smacks of fiction".
Singh's media advisor Pankaj Pachauri said Baru was misusing his privileged position.
In a statement released by the PMO, Pachauri said, "It is an attempt to misuse a privileged position and access to high office to gain credibility and to apparently exploit it for commercial gain. The commentary smacks of fiction and coloured views of a former adviser."
The statement recalled that the question about comments of the former media adviser was raised by senior editors when they met the Prime Minister in October last year. His answer was "Do not believe all he is saying".