Former Gujarat Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela on Sunday said Manmohan Singh was the “world’s best prime minister” who worked hard for the country without seeking publicity. In a veiled attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vaghela accused him of “wasting” public money on the Statue of Unity and for “self-advertisement”, and sought Rs 10,000 crore aid for the welfare of the OBC community.
“This (Central) government allocated only Rs 1800 crore for welfare of the entire OBC community (in 2018-19). What does that mean? You waste more than Rs 5000 crore in advertisements. Why not give it to the community?” Vaghela asked while addressing an OBC Sammelan at Fagvel in Kheda district, around 38 km from here.
Questioning priorities of the Modi government, Vaghela said the ruling dispensation spent “Rs 10,000 crore” on the construction of the Statue of Unity and Mahatma Mandir (a convention hall in the state capital Gandhinagar) even as “people are dying of hunger, farmers committing suicide, and youths becoming jobless”. “...The government should give Rs 10,000 crore for the welfare of the OBC community,” he said.
The Statue of Unity, which is the tallest monument in the world dedicated to first Union Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, was unveiled by the prime minister in Gujarat’s Narmada district in October this year.
Referring to Bollywood film “The Accidental Prime Minister,” Vaghela, who had quit Congress ahead of 2017 Gujarat assembly polls, said Manmohan Singh was “the best prime minister in the world.
“Manmohan Singh saved the country from recession for ten years. He did not work to get his photos published, or deliver speeches. You are silent, not him. His work spoke for himself,” he said in an apparent reference to Modi’s criticism of Singh as “mauni baba” or a silent premier.
“The Accidental Prime Minister” is a biographical film based on the 2014 memoir of the same name by Sanjaya Baru, the then media adviser to Manmohan Singh.
Singh, who headed the erstwhile UPA government, served as the 13th PM of the country who remained in office from May 22, 2004, to May 26, 2014. The Congress has said the film is the BJP’s propaganda against the Grand Old Party.
Without naming Modi, Vaghela asked him to give an account of the works done by his government after coming to power in 2014.
“They gave you power for five years to work. But you have made fun of people. The entire country is finished. The country has gone backward by 15 years (due to demonetisation and GST),” he said.
There is nobody who understands the economy in the Central government. What has it got to do with us whether your plane lands in the Sabarmati (river) or in the ocean? We should not fall for such “dramabazi”, he said.
The prime minister had taken a seaplane flight from the Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad to the Dharoi dam in Mehsana district on the last day of campaigning for Gujarat polls last year, triggering a row.