By S.R. Ramanujan
Somehow, Congressmen have started nursing a feeling that the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh is not as tough as he should be when it comes to Narendra Modi. It started with the refusal of visa to the Gujrat Chief Minister by the US government. Singh stood by Modi as any Prime Minister should have done. Then came the UK government'sdecision not to have any official contacts with Modi during his visit to the UK. When there were intelligence reports of threats to Modi'slife or of his imminent arrest, the PMO reportedly prevailed upon Modi to cancel his visit to the UK. Congressmen were furious. Why should Singh try to save Modi from any embarrassment?
Let Modi hoist himself with his own petard, was the attitude. The problem is that Singh is not a dyed-in-the-wool politician to see politics in everything. PMO had to do some damage-control exercise just to please the Congressmen, saying that the decision to cancel the UK visit was Modi'sown.
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Now comes the controversy with PM'sphoto being used by Modi in a booklet. This booklet is a collection of articles, editorials, cartoons published all over the world on the vexed issue of denial of visa to Modi, brought out by the Directorate of Information of the Gujarat government. The cover of the booklet carries a picture of the CM on one side and that of the PM on the other. The PMO got wild over this and dashed off a notice as to how the Gujarat government could take this ?highly objectionable? step without the permission of the PMO.
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It is a fact that Dr Singh expressed a desire, soon after assumption of office, not to use his picture in any advertisements. This was followed only for a short while. Now, almost all the advertisements in newspapers carry his picture. No one seems to be taking permission from the PMO. The booklet in question was not authored by Modi wherein he used the PM'sphotograph nor is it a publication of Modi'sparty. There is a context for inclusion of PM'spicture in a government publication because the Union Government also played a positive role on the visa issue. If the objection was to the placement of Modi'sphotograph alongside Singh?s, what happens when Modi participates in Chief Ministers? meetings presided over by the Prime Minister? If Singh visits Gujarat, the protocol demands that the Chief Minister should receive him. Should that occasion be out of bounds for the lensmen just because the PMO does not want to see both together? How childish is the anger of PMO!