BJP slams PM for trashing Advani offer for TV debate

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Mar 28 2009, 05:36am hrs
Taking the war of words with the Congress forward, the BJP on Friday raised doubts about Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs capacity to lead the country, citing his inability to be elected from the Lok Sabha and participate in a television debate with NDA prime ministerial candidate LK Advani.

Manmohan Singhji is neither ready to fight the election nor is willing to take part in a TV debate with our prime ministerial candidate L K Advani. His illness is being cited as an excuse, senior BJP leader V K Malhotra said.

If he is ill and cannot even come for a TV debate, then how can he become the Prime Minister, he told reporters. Malhotra said Singh contested the Lok Sabha elections just once where he was defeated.

Advani on Thursday had challenged Singh to a live TV debate similar to the practice in the US where rival political leaders take on each other. Reacting to the challenge, Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natrajan had said the BJP seems to be obsessed with everything in the US. However, she said it was upto the Prime Minister to respond to the challenge. On Friday, Congress spokesperson and Union minister Anand Sharma ruled out such a debate.

In a parliamentary democracy, such debates do not take place. It is only held in the presidential system. He (Advani) has perhaps been influenced by the recent presidential elections in the US, Sharma told reporters here.

Advani ought to answer why he forgot this all these years. This has not been a practice since 1952, Sharma added.

Taking a dig at the Leader of Opposition, Sharma said, He has been a PM in waiting for a long time. He will continue to wait perpetually. He has no chance of becoming the PM in his lifetime.

The BJP, on the other hand, said the Congress is in shambles after desertions by the RJD, LJP and the failure to seal a deal with the SP. The political landscape is changing fast to the disadvantage of the Congress. Many key allies of the party have deserted it at a crucial time which will benefit the NDA, Malhotra, who resigned from the South Delhi Lok Sabha seat after becoming Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly, said.

On whether the party has issued any directives to its candidates following the Varun Gandhi episode, Malhotra said no specific instructions were issued but partymen were asked to stick to the party ideology. There is no such directive as of now. But there is a general directive to all candidates to stick to the BJP ideology.