With his government engulfed by charges of corruption, Dr Manmohan Singh said today, "The mindless atmosphere of negativity and pessimism that is sought to be created over the issue of corruption can do us no good. " He added, "Mindless atmosphere of negativity... can only damage the nation's image and hit at the morale of the executive" (Read full speech)
His remarks are being seen by many as a rebuttal to activists like Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan, who have formed a new anti-graft political party, which has yet to be named. They, and the opposition, have accused Dr Singh's government of being predisposed to corruption, a campaign that's becoming high-decibel ahead of elections in states like Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
The job of the government's critics has been made easier by a series of financial scandals that have tumbled out over the last few months into the national landscape. From telecom to coal blocks, crony capitalism seems to have guided which companies got licenses and permits - in the telecom scam, politicians are on trial for corruption and conspiracy along with executives of some of India's biggest telecom companies. In the coal scam, politicians lobbied for coal fields on behalf of companies that were often owned by members of their own families.
Mr Kejriwal and Mr Bhushan, who were frontliners of the civil society movement called India Against Corruption, formed their own party last week. Since then, they have been targetin Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, for allegedly getting interest-free loans and sweetheart deals on prime property from real estate giant DLF. The activists say that for the favours done to Mr Vadra, the Congress government in Haryana gave huge expanses of land to DLF that had been acquired from farmers and villagers for public interest projects.
Earlier this year, Mr Kejriwal and Mr Bhushan said that 13 senior cabinet ministers were linked to major financial scandals. They also said that the Prime Minister must take responsibility for the coal scam, because he held direct charge of the Coal Ministry for a part of the period during which coal fields were allocated to companies who allegedly lied about their technical expertise and finances.
In May, the Prime Minister had said that he would resign if even "an iota of truth" was found in the activists' allegations.