New Delhi : An unusually combative Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is otherwise known for his reticence and measured responses in Parliament, took on the main opposition, the BJP, in the Lok Sabha during his intervention on the motion of thanks for the President’s address.
”But in a UPA versus NDA contest, the people would prefer us. The BJP fielded an ‘Iron Man’ who said that Manmohan Singh is the weakest Prime Minister. We all know what happened, and the people will repeat the same fate,” he said in a direct reference to the 2009 campaign when the BJP had
put L K Advani as the prime ministerial candidate and lost.
The Prime Minister also quoted Urdu poet Ghalib to rap the BJP: ”Humko use wafa ki hai umeed, jo nahin jaante wafa kya hai (We are expecting those who do not know the meaning of loyalty to exhibit loyalty to us)” he said.
This did meet with a poetic rejoinder from the leader of opposition Sushma Swaraj who quipped; ” Kuch to mazbooriayan rahi hongi, varna yun hi koi bewafa nahin hota (There must have been some compulsions, otherwise no one becomes unfaithful just like that),” she said.
Comparing the average growth rate between nine years of UPA (9 per cent) and six years of NDA ( 6 per cent), the prime minister appeared upbeat about the revival of the economy, and quoted a number of figures to show his government in a better light.
”We shall have an 8 percent growth rate in the 12th plan period, and we have handled the global economic crisis much better than many countries,” he added.
The Prime Minister also observed that the BJP does not deliver what it promises.” Jo garaj te hain, woh baraste nahin,” he said with reference to BJP’s Shining India campaign.
He also used the opportunity to address a large number of issues that have been figuring in the public domain, including international matters. Foremost was his assertion on Indo-China ties that the boundary dispute should not come in the way of relations for mutual benefit. ”There is enough space in the world for India and China to achieve their development aspirations. The new leaders of China have conveyed their desire to strengthen our relations,” he said.
He also assured that the new dams in China are run-of-the river projects and would not result in water storage, but the government would also keep a close watch on these developments to ensure that India’s interests do not suffer. In the context of Pakistan, he said:” The dialogue process continues but the neighbor has not been doing enough to contain terrorist activity. Besides, the January2013 incident of the beheading of soldiers had cast its shadow on the dialogue process.”