Gentle PM turns combative, ruling combine happy

March 5th, 2008 - 8:12 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, March 5 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, otherwise soft and gentle even in his attacks against his political rivals, was a different man Wednesday. By hitting out at Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani, in an uncharacteristically sarcastic way, Manmohan Singh took on the role of a sharp politician. It made the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) as well as its Left allies happy.

“It was Manmohan Singh’s maiden political speech,” said Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) MP P. Rajendran.

“He has torn Advani into pieces,” said another communist MP N.N. Krishnadas.

A senior colleague of Manmohan Singh put it like this: “When a quiet man becomes angry he becomes furious.”

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) Mp Ramkripal Yadav went to Manmohan Singh immediately after he finished his more-than-hour-long speech, shook hands with him and said: “You have done wonders. You have made him speechless”.

A blushing prime minister was seen thanking everyone for their compliments.

The speech left even his own party men surprised. “It was not even a written speech. He added many things extempore,” said a Congress MP.

The MP pointed out that the speech was absolutely different from the prime minister’s usual speeches. “When he was attacking Advani on internal security issue, he said at least three times that he did not want to score a point. But what he did was a tit for tat to Advani.”

In his speech Manmohan Singh said: “Advaniji has made some critical references about our government’s performance in dealing with terrorism and terrorist groups of different kinds. I have no intention to score points against the opposition on this issue.

“National security is too serious a matter for any kind of political one-upmanship. I would like to assure the house that our commitment in the fight against terrorism is absolute…

“I do not need to remind this house about a dark day in 2001 when, but for the fact that fate intervened and our vigilant Watch and Ward Staff, our Parliament would have been the scene of a great deal of bloodshed. I am not scoring points here against the failure of the NDA government.”

Ruling out Advani’s suggestion that a stricter legal regime to deal with terrorists was the need of the hour, Manmohan Singh said: “This lie must be nailed once and for all. Legal regimes do not prevent terror.

“If that had been the case, there would have been no attack on Akshardham or on the Raghunath Mandir. Draconian laws could not prevent the IC-814 hijack. We had the shameful sight of the then external affairs minister (Jaswant Singh) escorting dreaded terrorists to their freedom.

“Sabre rattling does not prevent terror. It requires efficient, effective policing and intelligence gathering.”

Taking a dig at Advani’s remarks that the UPA government would not complete five years, Manmohan Singh said: “Of course, I am aware that some members have been wishing that this government falls and this has been their wish since the day we came into office. To their misfortune and to the good fortune of the nation this has not happened. Such fond dreams do not die easily. Therefore, they continue to see visions where none exist.”

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