Hours after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s daughter and historian, Upinder Singh, sharply criticised her father’s former media adviser Sanjaya Baru for writing a book that was “nothing but a stab in the back…a huge betrayal of trust’’(see box), the Congress also swung into damage control mode.

If the party’s initial criticism of Dr. Baru’s book, The Accidental Prime Minister, had questioned the timing of its publication in the midst of a general election, on Tuesday it tore into its contents also. Describing it as the “mother of all plants,” the Congress’s communication chief Ajay Maken, in a four and half page statement, stressed that the Prime Minister and party president Sonia Gandhi have always enjoyed the “best of relations.”

The Congress statement came after consultations with both the senior leadership of the party and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), party sources told The Hindu. With the statement echoing the contents of the interview given by the Prime Minister’s daughter, there was clearly an attempt to distance Dr. Singh from the contents of the book and restore for the party rank and file his equation with Ms. Gandhi.

Priyanka’s defence

Meanwhile, with the book providing election fodder for the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and his party colleagues, who have over the last few days targeted the Congress president, accusing her of running the government through remote control, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra came to the rescue on Tuesday.

Responding to questions posed by journalists in Amethi, where she is campaigning for brother — and party vice-president — Rahul Gandhi, whether her mother was the “super Prime Minister” as Dr. Baru describes her in his book, she shot back, “I think Manmohan Singhji is the super PM.”

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