Priyanka Gandhi and PM’s daughter come to Manmohan Singh’s defence

Amethi/New Delhi, Apr 15: Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh continued to maintain their silence about claims in a recent book about two power centres in UPA but Priyanka Gandhi today joined issues to say that only he was the “super PM”.

Amid a storm over a tell-all book by PM’s former media adviser Sanjaya Baru that had raised questions over the political authority of the Prime Minister, Priyanka made a strong defence of Congress.

“Only Manmohan Singh was super PM…,” she told reporters in reply to a question on the views expressed in the book ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’ that “It is no secret that Sonia Gandhi was the super Prime Minister. (…)”.

Singh’s daughter Upinder Singh termed Baru’s account of his days in the PMO as “nothing but a stab in the back”. She accused him of “violating” the PM’s trust and branded the book an “unethical”, “mischievous” exercise.

Upinder, who teaches history in Delhi University, said Baru has pieced together “gossip” and unverified quotes, including some of her father’s, and used them as statements of fact.

In an interview to The Indian Express, she also questioned the timing of the book, which has hit the stands in the midst of elections, much to the embarrassment of the PMO and the ruling Congress. She said it could not be described as an “objective” book.

“It is an audacious account with so-called quotes, of even the Prime Minister, which have been recorded as facts.

Reported speech has been used as direct speech. Is this ethical?,” Upinder was quoted as saying by the newspaper today.

She said he was never part of the decision-making process in the PMO.

“He is holding forth and projecting himself in the centre of events which is not true and he had no access to files. It is not as if he was the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister. So what are the sources he has used? I spot an element of self-promotion in these assertions,” the PM’s daughter said.

She said she was not speaking on behalf of the PM but added that, “we are extremely angry at the exaggerated level of access the author has ascribed to himself”.

The family, Upinder said, was aware that the book was in the offing but when she had asked Baru when it would be out, he said, “Naturally, after the elections”.

Rejecting the author’s claim that the book’s publisher chose the timing, she said she had written several books and knew that authors have a say in the timing of the release.

“To me, there are other reasons for the timing. It is absurd to say there is no political motive. Sanjaya Baru cannot describe himself as a well-wisher of the Prime Minister,” she told the newspaper.