Aiyar defends PM's statement on minority

The minister defend his controversial ?first claim on resources? statement that led to a political storm, reports Aloke Tikku.

india Updated: Dec 16, 2006 22:25 IST

Mani Shankar Aiyar has defended the Prime Minister’s controversial ‘first claim on resources’ statement last weekend that led to a political storm but stopped short of extending his support to Manmohan Singh’s speech writers as well.

“I really don’t think that there is any cause for this storm of controversy. It’s a contrived storm,” the Panchayati Raj minister said, insisting that the Prime Minister intended to mean all the disadvantaged groups.

Singh was interpreted to have called for giving minorities the first claim over government resources; the PMO had later insisted that he meant other weaker sections as well.

“I want to make it completely clear that the PM intended to include all the disadvantaged groups and it was appropriate that special attention should be given to one of these disadvantaged groups whose extent of disadvantage had just been brought into the public realm by an extraordinarily important report presented by Justice Sachar,” the minister said in Karan Thapar’s show, Devil’s Advocate, to be telecast on CNN-IBN channel.

Aiyar – who was former PM Rajiv Gandhi’s speech writer in the 1980s – however, wasn’t as generous to people entrusted with the responsibility of drafting and vetting Singh’s speeches. “…there may be scope for improving the grammar and the language…,” the minister said.

In a lighter vein elsewhere in the interview, Aiyar remarked: “Perhaps the Prime Minister should have the kind of speech writer that Rajiv Gandhi had”.

The minister suggested that the media – and some cabinet ministers – interpreted “the first claim” to mean the minorities in view of the “time context” besides the “word context”; the speech was being made within days of the Sachar committee panel report.

“The Sachar committee report had just come out and it had revealed a very disturbing truth about our society”.

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First Published: Dec 16, 2006 20:49 IST