NEW DELHI: India's embattled prime minister appealed Saturday to the media, increasingly critical of his scandal-hit government, not to launch a “witch hunt” while investigating corruption.

Manmohan Singh’s call came as his Congress-led government struggles to restore order in parliament where opposition parties have stalled business in a row over allegedly illegal allocation of mining rights.

“The spirit of enquiry must not morph into a campaign of calumny,” Singh, 81, said while launching a state-built media centre in the Indian capital.

“A witch hunt is no substitute for investigative journalism,” the prime minister said and urged media groups to rise above “personal prejudices”.

Singh’s shaky government, which hopes to win a third consecutive term in elections that must be held by next May, has been weakened by a string of corruption scandals involving cabinet ministers and top officials.

The controversies include the awarding of mobile telephone spectrum at below-market prices and huge cost-overruns during the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games.

Singh's comments came as leading news magazine India Today in its latest edition accused his government of failing to deliver at a time when the economy has slowed sharply, inflation is stubbornly high and the currency has tumbled against the dollar.

“He is today the meekest head of a moribund government that has already abdicated its responsibilities,” the magazine said in lead story.

One TV station has begun lampooning the economist-turned premier and his finance minister, broadcasting animated cartoons of the two chasing a giant rupee coin downhill.

The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party plan to attack Singh's Congress party-led government over the scandals during the next election campaign.

Singh's government was reduced to a minority last September when a key ally withdrew support from the ruling coalition to protest changes aimed at liberalising India's still mainly closed economy.

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Comments (3)

August 24, 2013 3:03 pm


Ali Abbas
August 24, 2013 4:22 pm

As a Pakistani I do not feel any pleasure with congress govt's predicament. I think that only way out of our petty regional politics and enimosity is for both govt to floursih economically. India's politics are holding India back and pakistan's problem is that even with successful transfer of political power there are too many behind the scene players. Our supreme court, ISI and military keep meddling in some way or the other. Journalists in both countries are basically corrupt and dig up gossips but never address the issue of rampant illiteracy and poverty. These topics are not very sexy and do not sell newspapers.

Gopal Patel
August 24, 2013 4:49 pm

All corruption related files start vanishing the moment it is reported by the media. The police is hand-maid of the government and hence useless in investigating corruption in high places.But for the media reporting the cases of corruption, every thing would have been swept under the carpet.

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