PM’s media advisor cites rise in per capita income, farm wages to defend Govt

Though a little late in the day, the Prime Minister’s Office today came out to counter questions over the Manmohan Singh’s eroding authority.

There has been a feeling within a section of the Congress during the election campaign that timely a response from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could have averted such a big image crisis for the Party.

The criticism has become more vocal after the recent release of a couple of books which showed the Prime Minister being a mute spectator in the Government’s decision-making process.

Pankaj Pachauri, Communication advisor to the Prime Minister, said the development work done by the United Progressive Alliance Government speaks for itself. Citing a study by the Centre for Media Studies, Pachauri complained that the media never gave priority to the issue of development in the country.

“The information is not reaching the people because the media’s priority is different,” he said and added that personalities, Hindutva and Parties were discussed more than development issues in the media.

At a media briefing here, he claimed that no other democracy has progressed the way India has in the last 10 years. Per capita income saw a rise from ₹24,143 in 2004 to ₹74,920 in 2014, he claimed, and said the monthly per capita consumption increased from ₹1,060 in 2004 to ₹2,630 in 2014.

He said the equity market capitalisation rose to $1215.42 billion in 2014 from $388.74 in 2004 and agriculture wages increased to ₹138 from ₹48 in 2004. He said the number of the poor decreased to 26 crore from 40 crore in 2004.

“GDP has grown three times in the last 10 years. Minimum wages have also gone up three times. This shows the Government is working continuously,” he added.

Pachauri, however, declined to comment on the controversy over the book, ‘Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh’, written by his predecessor Sanjaya Baru. When asked why the Prime Minister did not comment on the book, he said there was no need of an explanation from him.

“The PMO has given statements about it not once but twice. The PM’s family has made its viewpoints public. The party the PM belongs to and is heading the Government made very long and considered statements about it. I do not think there is anything new to say about it,” he said.

Pachauri said he had also got an offer from a publishing house to write a book. “I have been offered to write a book but will not write one,” he said.

He added that as the communication advisor, he has easy access to the Prime Minister, but not to the decision-making process in the Prime Minister’s Office.

He also countered criticism of the Prime Minister being silent on issues. He said the Prime Minister had made thousands of speeches and attended a number of press conferences making his position on several issues clear.

The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, however, said that Pachauri had nothing new to offer.

“Regardless of what is being said by Pachauri, there was no convincing response from the Prime Minister or his office on the comments made by Baru in his book. The silence confirms what has been said in the book,” said BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad.

(This article was published on April 18, 2014)
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