Combative Manmohan takes on Advani, NDA

March 5th, 2008 - 3:41 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, March 5 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday accused the opposition of wrecking the lives of farmers and of failing to battle terrorism when it was in power until 2004. In comments many MPs said sounded like an election speech, a combative Manmohan Singh pointedly named opposition leader L.K. Advani in his speech, leading to a walkout by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies.

Speaking in the Lok Sabha, he accused the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) of failing to boost farm production and controlling inflation and also meeting the challenges of internal security.

“I cannot forget the dark days when the parliament was attacked by terrorists,” he said, referring to the armed assault on the building in the heart of the capital in December 2001 that almost caused an India-Pakistan war.

“I don’t want to score points. But it was a shameful sight that our external affairs minister accompanied the terrorists,” he said, another reference to the flight BJP’s Jaswant Singh took to Afghanistan with three Pakistani terrorists India was forced to free after terrorists hijacked an Indian Airlines flight from Kathmandu to New Delhi.

Manmohan Singh also lampooned the opposition for shedding tears for the farming community.

“Today they are talking about farmers. I would like to see what did they do during their time (in power)?”

Reeling off statistics, the prime minister accused the BJP-led government that ruled India from 1998 to 2004 of increasing procurement prices by “a pittance”.

“This government,” he said, speaking about the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) he heads, “has increased it by 33 percent in rice and 56 percent in wheat”.

“NDA was anti-farmer, anti-agriculture sector. We have finally removed the burden on farmers that the NDA government had put. We will not rest until the tears of all the farmers are wiped away.”

The treasury benches loudly cheered the prime minister’s unusually aggressive tone, which came days after Finance Minister P. Chidambaram unveiled widely welcomed huge sops for millions of farmers as well as the middle class.

Manmohan Singh also accused Advani of “communal overtones” and stoutly defended his government’s decision to empower minorities.

“I don’t plead guilty to that charge. This is a process of empowerment. The time has come to pay attention to the minorities’ education and development.”

N.N. Krishnadas of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) was one of the first to applaud Manmohan Singh as MPs trooped out of the house.

“The PM has torn Advani to pieces,” Krishnadas told IANS.

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