- PM says Dr Manmohan Singh skilled at "bathing with a raincoat"
- Remark references corruption scandals in Dr Singh's government
- Despite scams, Dr Singh not tainted, that's a skill, says PM
"Such harsh and ugly comments are not acceptable. No PM has ever used such comments about a former PM," said senior Congress leader P Chidambaram; the party's MPs in protest walked out of the Rajya Sabha, where the Prime Minister delivered a lengthy speech, outlining his government's commitment to fighting corruption and black money or tax evasion, in particular through his controversial decision to outlaw 500-and 1,000-rupee notes at just a few hours' notice. Dr Singh, who was present, said he did not wish to respond to the PM.
In November, Dr Singh had, also in Parliament, described the PM's abrupt demonetisation drive as "organised loot and legalised plunder." Stating that he agreed with the need to attack the country's vast shadow economy, Dr Singh had said the execution of the notes ban, which triggered a severe cash shortage, was "a monumental management failure."
Today, the PM made it clear that the critique had stung. "If you use words like 'loot' and 'plunder' for us, we will pay you back in the same coin," he said.
Yesterday, the PM defended the notes ban in the Lok Sabha, where he attacked Rahul Gandhi, Congress Vice President, who misguidedly said "SCAM", when applied to his party's actions, refers to "Seva, Courage, Ability and Modesty." The PM said that the attempt to "find Seva (service) in Scam" so distressed "Mother Earth" that an earthquake was the result. Hours before his speech, Delhi shook with tremors. And months earlier, Mr Gandhi had dispensed the argument that the government was trying to thwart him from speaking on demonetisation in Parliament, because when he did, "an earthquake will happen." Wryly, the PM said yesterday, "the quake has arrived."