“The statement being attributed to a former media adviser to the Prime Minister that PMO files were seen by the Congress president, Smt Sonia Gandhi is completely baseless and mischievous. It is categorically denied that any PMO file has ever been shown to Smt Sonia Gandhi,” PMO spokesman Pankaj Pachauri said in a statement here.
He was responding to the claims by Baru in his book “Accidental Prime Minister — The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh” and comments to media that the Prime Minister’s principal secretary Pulok Chatterjee would seek “instructions” from Gandhi on important PMO decisions.
Criticizing Baru, the PMO statement said, “The book written by the former media adviser is an attempt to misuse a privileged position and access to high office to gain credibility and to apparently exploit it for commercial gain.”
Pachauri said, “The commentary smacks of fiction and coloured views of a former adviser.”
The statement reiterated that the question about comments of the former media adviser was raised by senior editors when they met the Prime Minister in October last year. His answer was: “Do not believe all he is saying.”
The PMO statement came as the opposition launched a scathing attack on Gandhi and the Prime Minister, citing the claims by Baru.
In his book, Baru has written, “Pulok, who was inducted into the Manmohan Singh PMO at the behest of Sonia Gandhi, had regular, almost daily, meetings with Sonia at which he was said to brief her on the key policy issues of the day and seek her instructions on important files to be cleared by the PM.
“Indeed, Pulok was the single most point of regular contact between PM and Sonia. He was also the PMO’s main point of contact with the NAC, a high profile advisory body chaired by Sonia Gandhi, with social activists as members. It was sometimes dubbed the shadow cabinet.”
As the observations created a flutter, Baru said, “It was not a secret.” He said it was well known that Chatterjee was Sonia Gandhi’s secretary when she was the leader of opposition and had also worked with the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation chaired by her.
“He was very much part of the family … I was not witness to it, whether she physically saw the files. I knew she was consulted on issues and he was taking her concurrence,” said Baru, who had resigned from the PMO in 2008.