PM to speak out this week?
New Delhi: Under attack from civil society activists, the media and some of his own party members, voicing the need for him to be more communicative over critical issues facing the nation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is planning to speak out and answer his critics, possibly this week.
"The Prime Minister is going to speak out soon... possibly later this week," a highly-placed government source said when asked about the widespread impression that the Prime Minister has been unusually quiet, and possibly avoiding the public glare, amid increasingly shrill accusations about non-performance and malfeasance in his administration.
It's not yet clear whether the prime minister will interact with senior editors or speak to the nation.
Whatever form it takes, many in the Congress are convinced that the government and the prime minister need to be more communicative to stem the image downslide following scams like the sale of 2G spectrum and deals struck ahead of the Commonwealth Games as well as debates over the Lokpal bill.
The government's failure to communicate was a subject of animated discussion at a closed door meeting of the Congress party top brass recently, a well-placed source disclosed.
The disaffection in the party has been brewing for some time. Party insiders point out that Home Minister P Chidambaram was only airing the party's discontent when he said in a recent interview that people expected their top leader to be more communicative.
"...But yes, I acknowledge that lots of people would like the prime minister to step up to the plate, so as to say, and speak more often. But that is the style of the person," Chidambaram told a private TV channel when asked why Manmohan Singh did not speak on the issue of bringing the Prime Minister under the purview of the proposed Lokpal.
"There is disquiet in the party and among senior leaders about the government's communication failure vis-a-vis anti-corruption protests and on issues of policy," Mahesh Rangarajan, a political analyst said.
"It signals a need for a change in the style of leadership and the style of communication," he said.
Not all agree. Manish Tewari, an MP from Ludhiana and a spokesperson of the Congress, said: "The PM has a style and believes that his work should speak for itself. By temperament and personality, he is not the kind to speak much."
His aides say that Manmohan Singh has spoken when required, has met the media more than many of his predecessors and does not necessarily have to copy the "American style" of public speaking and communication.
Manmohan Singh has so far held only three nationally televised press conferences in the last seven years has been prime minister but has not been known to give interviews to the Indian media.
The Oxbridge-educated Prime Minister, a former professor at the Delhi School of Economics, may yet surprise his critics when he breaks his silence, likely later this week.