While the national leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party has readily endorsed Time magazine's latest label of “The Underachiever” for him, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has surprisingly found support from Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and state BJP president Prabhat Jha.
Speaking to mediapersons on Friday at an event to felicitate players of Madhya Pradesh who won medals at the 34th National games, Mr. Chouhan expressed his disapproval of Time's views on the Indian PM.
“Some journalists asked me about the issue thinking I would say something against the PM, since I am from a rival party,” Mr. Chouhan said.
“But we are all children of one nation and he is our Prime Minister. If something's wrong, we will all sit together and resolve it but we can't give that right to anybody else,” he said.
“The Prime Minister of India does not need a certificate from Time magazine,” said Mr. Chouhan in an unexpected show of solidarity towards PM Manmohan Singh, who has been under fire from the national and international media as well as the country's political opposition, chief among them the BJP, over a spate of scams and constantly deteriorating economic scenario among other issues.
And if that wasn't enough, state BJP president Prabhat Jha joined Mr. Chouhan in the Prime Minister's defence.
“No foreign magazine has the right to look down upon the Prime Minister of India,” Mr. Jha said, speaking to journalists here on Saturday. There could be ideological differences with the PM, but they would be death within the country, he said.
Mr. Jha also said the same magazine sang praises for Dr. Singh when he assumed the Prime Ministership of the country in 2004, saying the country would achieve high economic growth under him.
“It must not be forgotten America uses magazines like Time to wage ideological warfare against other countries,” said Mr. Jha.
Time magazine's latest cover had called Prime Minister Manmohan Singh an “underachiever” who was “unwilling to stick his neck out” on fast pacing economic reforms.
Earlier, the BJP's national leadership had readily endorsed the magazine's criticism and said India was being perceived as one of the most corrupt countries in the world because of Dr. Singh's “corrupt government”.