The controversy over Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s reference to “the first claim on resources” in Saturday’s National Development Council meeting continued through Sunday and threatened to spill over into Parliament on Monday.
The Prime Minister’s office held a “deliberate and mischievous misinterpretation” of the Prime Minister’s observations responsible for the “avoidable controversy” and said the speech read in entirety, made it clear that observations pertained to all the “priority areas”, including programmes to uplift the SCs, STs, OBCs, women and children and minorities.
But the BJP, which had criticised the Prime Minister on Saturday, rejected Sunday's clarification, saying it was an “eyewash and an afterthought”. Deputy leader in Lok Sabha V.K. Malhotra said Singh’s comments were part of the continuing appeasement politics of the Congress ahead of election in Uttar Pradesh next year and would be raised in Parliament.
Information and broadcasting minister PR Dasmunsi later said there was no need for the PMO to issue a clarification: “It was not necessary because it might have annoyed some sections for their own orthodox and obscurantist models, but it does not harm the stature and the Prime Minister’s leadership”. The PMO statement quoted extensively from Saturday's speech to emphasise that while affluent sections of the society would benefit from the good performance of the Indian economy, “it is the responsibility of the government to pay special attention to the welfare of the weaker and marginalised sections” and recalled Singh’s statement that “India must shine, but for all”.
“The component plans for SCs and STs will need to be revitalised. We will have to devise innovative plans to ensure that minorities, particularly the Muslims, are empowered to share the fruits of development equitably,” he said.