PM to ‘ripe old’ Advani: change your astrologer (Lead)

July 22nd, 2008 - 10:26 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday launched a sharp broadside against BJP leader L.K. Advani, referring to his age, the Babri Masjid demolition and the Gujarat riots — and saying that he had made “at least three attempts to topple our government… but on each occasion his astrologers have misled him”. “This pattern, I am sure, will be repeated today,” the prime minister said in his reply to the two-day debate on the vote of confidence in his government. The prime minister, however, could not deliver his speech due to repeated heckling by the opposition and copies of his address were distributed.

Recalling that Advani had repeatedly described him as the “weakest prime minister” and a “nikamma (useless) PM”, Manmohan Singh said with uncharacteristic vitriol: “At his ripe old age (Advani is 81), I do not expect Shri Advani to change his thinking. But for his sake and India’s sake, I urge him at least to change his astrologers so that he gets more accurate predictions of things to come.”

Labelling the opposition ranged against him as a “motley crowd” of “opportunistic groups”, Manmohan Singh said: “Our Left colleagues should tell us whether Shri L.K. Advani is acceptable to them as a prime ministerial candidate.

“Shri L.K. Advani should enlighten us if he will step aside as prime ministerial candidate of the opposition in favour of the choice of the UNPA (United National Progressive Alliance),” he said in an apparent reference to Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) party leader Mayawati who has been seeking to be a third front prime ministerial candidate.

Manmohan Singh suggested that Advani should “do some introspection”.

“Can our nation forgive a home minister who slept when the terrorists were knocking at the doors of our parliament? Can our nation forgive a person who single handedly provided the inspiration for the destruction of the Babri Masjid with all the terrible consequences that followed? To atone for his sins, he suddenly decided to visit Pakistan and there he discovered new virtues in Mr. Jinnah. Alas, his own party and his mentors in the RSS disowned him on this issue.

“Can our nation approve the conduct of a home minister who was sleeping while Gujarat was burning leading to the loss of thousands of innocent lives?”

An unusually aggressive prime minister did not leave out Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Prakash Karat, instrumental in the Left parties withdrawing support to the United Progressive Alliance over differences on the India-US civil nuclear deal, either.

“Our friends in the Left Front should ponder over the company they are forced to keep because of miscalculations by their general secretary,” he said.

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