'Weak-kneed PM taking cover in coalition dharma'
Charging Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with having 'silently watched' the 2G spectrum scam, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief Jayalalitha on Monday said he was a "weak-kneed head of state taking cover under coalition dharma."
Describing Singh's recent interaction with the electronic media as a "wretched exercise" and a "damp squib", she said, "He was at his helpless best, taking cover for all the ills plaguing the nation, using the fragile shield of coalition dharma."
She said in a hard-hitting statement that the prime minister repeatedly kept blaming "compromises" imposed by "coalition dharma" for most of his government's failings.
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Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
'PM's admission total disregard for the Constitution'
On appointment of Raja as telecom minister in United Progressive Alliance-2, despite being under the scanner over the spectrum scam, Singh had said it was not his choice, but imposed by a coalition partner, the AIADMK leader said.
Pointing out that the Constitution has vested in the prime minister the power to choose his council of ministers, she said it is perfectly all right for him to consult his party chief and even his alliance partners on specifics.
"But to admit in a media briefing that he had no role in selecting a particular cabinet minister and to claim that his hand was forced virtually amounts to admission of total disregard for the Constitution," she said.
Image: AIADMK chief Jayalalitha
'We have a PM who has no control over his ministers'
She also said that on being questioned about his "silence" on adopting a first-come-first-served policy for allotting spectrum, Singh said he had written to Raja about his concerns, to which he had replied that it would be transparent.
"Based on this assurance, the Prime Minister had silently watched as the nation was subjected to a Rs 1.76 lakh crore loss. An economist of repute, Dr Manmohan Singh certainly cannot say he was unaware about the loss. He should have stepped in and stemmed the rot. But in the interests of a nebulous factor called 'coalition dharma', he remained silent. This is the sad reality confronting India today," she said.
"We have a prime minister, who not only has no control over his council of ministers, but also cannot step in even when he sees things going out of hand," she charged.
She said the prime minister had "no satisfactory answers" to queries on Indian Space Research Organisation's allocation of S-Band spectrum, the Commonwealth Games scam and Adarsh Housing Society scam, "none of which involved the tenuous issue of coalition dharma."
Image: Jailed former telecom minister A Raja
Photographs: Rediff archives