Opposition says PM speech unimpressive (Lead)

August 15th, 2011 - 8:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Aug 15 (IANS) Opposition parties slammed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Independence Day speech as unimpressive while some political observers said the address laid adequate emphasis on the role of parliament in legislation-making when civil society activists were going on a fast for a strong Lokpal bill.

The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the prime minister’s speech did not address the issue of corruption properly while the Communist Party of India (CPI) believed it reflected the helplessness of the government.

BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said his party was expecting the prime minister to come forward with a very clear references on what action he proposes to take on account of the “massive scams and monumental corruption” faced by the government. “There was no assurance on that account,” Prasad said.

CPI leader D. Raja added that the speech left no impression.

“I do not think the prime minister’s speech made any impression or gave any motivation to the masses of our country… In fact, the prime minister’s speech reflects the helplessness of this government and pleads for some kind of a ‘take it as it is’ attitude,” Raja said.

Prof Sushila Ramaswamy, associate professor in political science, Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi, said the prime minister was absolutely right when he pointed out that it is for parliament to decide what kind of Lokpal legislation should be enacted.

She said civil society can provide inputs and cannot play role of legislator.

Referring to the prime minister’s remarks that those who do not agree with the Lokpal bill can put their views to political parties but should not resort to fast, she said that even Mahatma Gandhi was careful about going on fast as a means of protest.

“We have a system. Courts are there… we are not a plebiscitarian democracy. The role of civil society should be more restrained,” Sushila Ramaswamy told IANS.

Prof Anand Kumar of the Centre for Study of Social Systems, Jawaharlal Nehru University, said the prime minister spoke about the challenge of corruption in a contradictory manner.

“He admitted to presence of corruption in the state (apparatus) including allotment of government contracts and said there is no magic wand to check it. On the other hand, he said mobilisation through fast was not a way to solve problems because parliament is supreme,” Kumar said, adding that talking and petitioning to lawmakers has not helped tackle corruption effectively in the past.

Subrata Mukherjee, a former professor Delhi University, said the prime minister addressed the issue of corruption adequately in his address.

“I think he addressed the issue adequately. Corruption is a complex issue. Only forming Lokpal will not end it,” Mukherjee said.

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