PM asks Advani to wait for his chance


New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday took a dig at L.K. Advani, saying the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader had not forgiven him for becoming the prime minister after the 2009 Lok Sabha elections and asked the octogenarian leader to wait for a few more years for his next opportunity.

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“Advaniji believes that prime ministership is his birthright. He has not forgiven me,” said Manmohan Singh in his replying to the discussion on WikiLeaks expose of US diplomatic cables that claimed a Congress party leader had amassed several crores of Indian rupees to win over opposition MPs during the July 2008 trust vote of the UPA-I government.

“All I want to say is that the people of India have voted us in a free and fair election. Please wait for another three-and-half-years for your next opportunity,” he said.

The unusually combative prime minister’s remarks brought smiles on the faces of Congress MPs, who thumped their desks in affirmation. The BJP benches, on the other hand, were stunned into silence by the unexpected offensive from the prime minister.

Manmohan Singh said he was not new to opposition attacks and that he had faced it as the finance minister in 1991 and later as prime minister since 2004.

“This is not the first time I am facing in my public career opposition onslaught of this type. I have faced it as finance minister and prime minister. The main opposition fought the 2004 and 2009 elections adopting this attitude,” he said.

After the WikiLeaks’ expose of the US embassy cables on the July 2008 trust vote episode, former deputy prime minister Advani had led his party in asking for the prime minister’s resignation.

Advani was also in the forefront of his party’s election campaigns in both 2004 and 2009, and has frequently attacked Manmohan Singh as the “weakest prime minister”. The BJP veteran also criticised Manmohan Singh on his control over the council of ministers, alluding to the political power that Congress president Sonia Gandhi wielded.

In both, 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Advani was projected by the BJP as it prime ministerial candidate.