A day after the Prime Minister’s Office sought to counter the perception that Manmohan Singh has been "weak" in his tenure, senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley on Saturday took potshots at him.
"In India, the Prime Minister's read out speeches were not being heard by the people. They are no longer remembered or talked about. The PMO is right. Statistically, the Prime Minister was speaking, factually, he was not being heard," Jaitley, wrote in his blog.
The BJP leader who is fighting his maiden Lok Sabha polls from Amritsar against former Punjab Chief Minister and Congress nominee, Amarinder Singh, further added, "the Prime Minister walked on snow, but did not leave any footprints".
Jailtey wrote that in response to controversy created by two recently published books including the one by PM's former Media Adviser Sanjaya Baru, the PMO has clarified that in the last 10 years, the Prime Minister had delivered around 1,200 speeches.
"The PMO thought that this would counter the charge that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was not a 'speaking' Prime Minister," Jaitley said.
"He must be heard with attention. He must be a leader and not just a reader," Jaitley said.
The BJP veteran also took a dig at Rahul Gandhi's brother-in-law Robert Vadra.
"Congratulations to Mr Robert Vadra. He has made it to the Wall Street Journal. The Vadra business model requires the research paper to be prepared by a key business analyst," Jaitley has said.
Targeting Vadra, Jaitley wrote: "Start a business without any investment. Investment will flow as loans and advances which is a synonym for political equity. Use these loans to buy property at fraction of the market cost."
Jaitley, who is facing a tough battle at the husting in Amritsar further said "Many people are willing to sell property for an inadequate consideration, accumulate a land and a property bank with the patronage of the state. Sell off some properties and repay the original loan. The rest is all yours with no liabilities. So far this business model has raised only eyebrows. It is time it raises serious questions. That is what the Wall Street Journal has done."
Jaitley said that the Prime Minister is the key political executive of the country and must "command both moral and political authority".
"Prime Minister is the face of Indian democracy. His opinion shapes policy. He provides leadership. People look up to him for solutions. A Prime Minister cannot be low-key. He must arouse confidence in people. He must appear confident about offering solutions. He must be a top mass leader of the ruling coalition," the BJP leader said.
In an interaction with reporters at New Delhi yesterday, Prime Minister's Communications Adviser, Pankaj Pachauri had said that economic data shows unprecedented development in the last decade which would have been impossible if Manmohan Singh had been "weak", countering the damaging claims made by Baru.
Jaitley said that a Prime Minister must be communicative.
Making a reference to US President Barack Obama, who during his visit to India earlier, had delivered several important speeches including one in the Central Hall of Parliament and "impressed" one and all.
"During the presidential banquet in his (Obama's) honour, I had an opportunity to interact with the key draftsmen of his speeches. Each of his speeches were prepared by an expert and vetted by a group of officials and eventually by the President himself. Most of the speeches were read out from the teleprompter. The teleprompter had a transparent screen. We, in the audience, thought it was an extempore speech. But the President was reading from the two teleprompters even in the Central Hall of Parliament. The impact that his delivery and diction created was huge," he wrote.
Jaitley was also unsparing in his attack on former Indian cricketer Bishan Singh Bedi, who was in Amritsar on Friday and had heaped praises on the BJP leader’s Congress rival Amarinder Singh.
"My friend Bishen Bedi was in Amritsar yesterday. This was the visit with a difference. He came to campaign for a political party (Congress) which has provided India the most dishonest government in history. He came to campaign for a candidate who is accused under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Bishen has always been a crusader even if he crusades for an immoral cause," he wrote on Bedi.