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Modi throws book of ‘accidents’ at Cong

April 13: Narendra Modi today continued to use Sanjaya Baru’s book to target the Congress, even playing on its title to speculate on the toll taken by an “accidental” Prime Minister compared with scooter and bus accidents.

“Brothers, if two scooters meet with an accident, maximum two or three people will die. If two buses meet with an accident, 40 to 50 people will die. If two aircraft meet with an accident, 700 to 800 people will die; if two trains meet with an accident, 200 to 300 people will die,” he told a rally in Karnataka.

“But with an accidental Prime Minister, 125 crore people will die and the future of our youth will get immersed in darkness.”

The Accidental Prime Minister — The Making and Unmaking Of Manmohan Singh by Baru, media adviser to the Prime Minister till 2008, suggests Singh played second fiddle to Sonia Gandhi and had his authority undermined by the party brass.

Since its release on Friday, BJP leaders including Modi have fallen over themselves to use its contents to attack Singh, Sonia and Rahul.

Modi repeated a charge he had made yesterday: that Sonia “remote-controlled” Singh’s government. “All the files are being checked by Sonia Gandhi,” he claimed.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), which has already accused Baru of peddling “fiction” for “commercial gain”, denied that Sonia used to see PMO files.

“The statement being attributed to a former media adviser to the Prime Minister that PMO files were seen by the Congress president, Smt Sonia Gandhi, is completely baseless and mischievous,” PMO spokesperson Pankaj Pachauri said in a statement.

“It is categorically denied that any PMO file has ever been shown to Smt Sonia Gandhi.”

Baru today claimed the book was “very balanced” and had highlighted the UPA’s achievements too but the media had only focused on the critical bits. “More than 50 per cent of the book records the facts where he (Singh) took decisions, where he showed resolve.… This was a PM who did a lot and the book records that.”

Modi today claimed that according to Baru, when Singh was given a chance to head the government for a second term, he had “refused with folded hands”.

“He did not want to become PM but madam made him…. Why? Because, until son gets ready, give the charge to someone... at the cost of the country’s well-being,” Modi alleged.

BJP veteran L.K. Advani, who once called Singh India’s “weakest PM”, today said Baru’s book had corroborated what the world knew. Arun Jaitley echoed him.

The BJP’s eagerness to keep up the attack’s momentum showed when spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad held a news conference on a Sunday, with an apology to reporters.

He cited extracts from Baru’s book to defend a recent BJP poll document titled “A dark decade in governance”.

The booklet accuses the Congress of undermining the dignity and integrity of the office of the Prime Minister. It says Singh functioned “like a CEO” taking directions from “the board headed by Smt Sonia Gandhi with Rahul Gandhi as the deputy”.

“The Congress condemned what we had said but today, Baru’s book has put this in front of the country,” Prasad said.

He referred to a television interview by Rahul last evening where he spoke of empowering the people.

Prasad said: “The Congress vice-president could not empower the Prime Minister, so how could he empower the people as he claimed during the interview yesterday?”