Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former Union Minister Arun Shourie has come out in unexpected praise of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, deviating from his party's cacophonous stance.
Speaking out in support of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's wave of economic reforms that have been strongly opposed by his party, Shourie heaved lavish praise on the Prime Minister.
The government on Sept 14 threw open doors to more foreign investment in India's retail, aviation and broadcast sectors, while also announcing disinvestment in four state-run industries in moves that were long seen as critical to revive flagging growth and confidence in Asia's third-biggest economy.
The reforms, the came just a day after the government also announced cut to its fuel subsidy bill by announcing hikes in diesel prices and a limit to the number of subsidised LPG cylinders sold to households, were met a huge political backlash from the Opposition and allies alike.
The moves also resulted in the pullout of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) from the UPA, that sent the coalition government scrambling in search of support to establish a majority in Parliament.
Batting for much the controversial reforms, Shourie in Bhopal on Saturday said, "Increasing diesel prices was the need of the hour. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has for the first time shown his strength."
Earlier, speaking to reporters he had openly supported the hike in diesel prices but said that the move to allow more foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail and aviation sectors were "neither here nor there" as they were only intended to send positive signals abroad.