Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav on Monday claimed that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was a “a nice man with no independence” to run his government the way he wanted to.
If the prime minister of the country did not have the independence to take decisions, how was it possible to run the country, asked Mulayam.
"If the prime minister shows that he is weak, then the country will be weak too," said Yadav.
Yadav's comments about the PM come at a time when Dr Singh's nine-year tenure at the helm of the United Progressive Alliance government has come under sharp scrutiny, even from within the Congress.
A growing chorus of political figures and commentators have crticised Dr Singh for being unable to assert his authority over a government whose functioning has been hobbled by a series of scams, a lacklustre economy and policy paralysis.
The latest criticism, this time from an ally, will underscore the growing tensions between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party, one of the two parties from Uttar Pradesh on whose support the UPA government survives.
Mulayam also accused the Congress of following flawed domestic, economic and foreign policies, while sidestepping pointed questions on the government's longevity or the timing of the next elections.
He did not specifically criticise Congress President Sonia Gandhi or the Bharatiya Janata Party’s leadership. Asked why he skipped UPA-II's annual dinner, he said that he could not participate in a function to extol the achievements of the Congress-led government, when the truth was anything but that.
Yadav criticised UPA's foreign policy, especially its handling of China, and ruled out any truck with the BJP, which he blamed for damaging Indian politics.
He was also dismissive of Narendra Modi's achievements, stating that the Gujarat chief minister was a media creation.
Defending Yadav's view, fellow SP leader Naresh Agarwal said that his party stands against corruption and it will not support the UPA in any act of corruption.
"The ruling UPA is heavily embroiled in controversies and is corrupt and its image has been maligned with constant cases of corruption. Our party purposely also didn't go to the UPA dinner, when the prime minister presented the government's report card, because of its corrupt image. We are with the government only when it works for the people and not when it acts against them," he said.
Yadav's party offers outside support to the Congress Party-led UPA and is seen as a key support after two of its allies -- Trinamool Congress and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam -- pulled out.