In rage, Manmohan Singh blames BJP: You disrupt the House, stall growth, hurt investors

Written by Express news service | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 31 2013, 04:40am hrs
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In arguably his last lap as Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh today launched a blistering attack on the BJP linking the slump in the economy and the dip in investor sentiment to what he called the Opposition partys frequent disruptions of Parliament that, he said, stalled key reforms.

He said the BJP had never reconciled to the fact that it was voted out of power nine years ago, leading to testy exchanges between him and Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley.

Singh today took on the BJP after Jaitley blamed the government for regularly fracturing the political environment which was needed for forging a cross-party consensus. Singh argued that the conduct of Parliament was an important factor in determining investor sentiment. Building of consensus is both the responsibility of government and the opposition. I wish the conduct of the opposition party was consistent while letting the ruling party govern, he said. If the record of the last nine years is looked at, the principal opposition has never reconciled to the fact that it was voted out of power nine years back. Have you ever heard of a situation in Parliamentary system where the Prime Minister is not allowed to introduce his council of ministers Have you heard of Parliament in any other country where the members of the opposition walks into the Well shouting Prime Minister chor hai The type of things said here... he said leading to commotion and Jaitley retorting have you heard of any democracy where the prime minister has won the vote of confidence by buying MPs

Virtually rejecting the Prime Ministers argument that the rupee has depreciated because of external factors, Jaitley spoke about policy paralysis, UPAs preference to populist policies over fiscal prudence and the spiral effect of governmental corruption like in allocation of coal block and 2G spectrum licenses adversely affecting the economy and eroding investor confidence.

A failed candidate in the class always has an explanation that the whole class has failed, he said adding that that is not an explanation. He went on to rub it in that the legacy that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will leave behind will not be the same as the legacy he has left behind as Finance Minister. It will be after me, the deluge.

Your idea of democracy is that when the government is in trouble, you need the help of opposition parties, he said. Amid the ruckus, Jaitley was contested by Mani Shankar Aiyar who accused him of lying, prompting Deputy Chairman P J Kurien to observe that in economic some politics will come.

In fact, the Prime Ministers reply to the clarifications sought by members on his statement was disrupted repeatedly by BJP members whenever he spoke about their conduct in Parliament. He said investor confidence is affected if Parliament, the supreme body of the country is not allowed to function session after session.

I am not making a partisan point, but if you are worried about investor sentiment, both domestic and foreign, the conduct of parliament is an important factor, he said drawing another counter attack from Jaitley. We would like to know what PM intends to do for reviving the economy. We dont want to hear alibis for failure, he said prompting Finance Minister P Chidambaram to argue the Jaitley too had made a political statement and we heard you.

Admitting that there is a problem that needs to be resolved, he asked the BJP to recognise this. I do recognise that there is a problem. This can be resolved only if opposition does recognise its conduct in Parliament. This is not something that can be done unilaterally. It takes two to clap, he said.

It is the responsibility of all members of this House to send out a message that India remains a viable, bankable and credit worth proposition. That is an obligation I invite all sections of the House to respect, the PM said. Responding to Jaitleys criticism of the government over corruption, he said the Government has no desire to protect the guilty and argued that investigative agencies and courts were doing their job in bringing the guilty to book. He argued that those issues should not be used for disruption of Parliament.

When some of opposition members interrupted him and spoke about the missing coal files, Singh said, I am not the custodian of files of the coal ministry, triggering an uproar. The BJP staged a walkout both in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha after the PMs statement calling it unsatisfactory.

While the BJP hit out at the PM outside Parliament for targeting it, the Government defended him.Justifying the Prime Ministers criticism of the opposition, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said, They (the BJP) just want to politicize everything. They just say dont bring this bill, dont bring that bill, but they dont come out with a single suggestion. Politicisation is not the answer to the current economic issues.

Though uncharacteristic of Singh, the manifestation of anger and frustration came as a reminder of his diatribe against L K Advani in 2009 when he had questioned the opposition leaders contribution to the nation in response to his frequent weak-PM-digs. Singh had then gone on the campaign trail as the partys Prime Ministerial candidate.

This time, though, having blamed the Opposition for stalling reforms, the Prime Minister is set to visit half-a-dozen countries in the next ten weeks, which would see him hardselling the sputtering India story to more than 100 Prime Ministers and Presidents from around the world. In what could be his last extensive international engagement, he would visit at least eight cities in the US, China, Russia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Brunei.

Singh leaves for St Petersberg on September 5 to attend the G-20 summit. This will be followed by his trip to the US in September last week. In early October, he will be in Brunei to attend the ASEAN and East Asia summit and is also likely to visit Indonesia for a bilateral visit. In the same month, he is scheduled to go on bilateral visits to China and Russia. Around mid-November, he is expected to go to Colombo to attend the CHOGM summit.