“If we read between the lines, (the Prime Minister) admitted that his government failed to curb corruption, check unemployment and contain inflation”

The Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday dismissed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s 10-year tenure as a “wasted opportunity” and said the high point of his two terms has been his “reelection in 2009”.

Hours after the Prime Minister addressed the media in New Delhi, the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said the Prime Minister’s press conference was intended to be a “formality”, which turned out to be a “farce” and was just a valedictory address.

“It was only to announce that he will not be available for leadership to the Congress after the 2014 general elections. In that sense, he intended to announce his own farewell,” Mr. Jaitely said.

The BJP leader was unsparing in his criticism of the Prime Minister and the Congress-led UPA government. He said: “If we read between the lines, he (the Prime Minister) admitted that his government failed to curb corruption, check unemployment and contain inflation…and all three together are a recipe for disaster. Yet, the Prime Minister made excuses for having delivered good governance.”

The senior BJP leader flayed the government for failing to tame corruption and said when the PM was quizzed about the steps that could have been taken, he should have introspected. “His mind space on issue of corruption seems to be reducing,” Mr. Jaitely said in reference to the Prime Minister’s statement on the charges of corruption against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh. “When the Prime Minister was informed of all the corruption in the coal block and 2G allocation, he could have stopped it. He manufactured a new logic-that even after the corruption (alleged) that took place during the regime of UPA I, the coalition won a second term in the 2009 elections.”

Mr. Jaitley said the fact that UPA won the second term in 2009 was indeed a “milestone”.

Mr. Jaitely said electoral sanction does not wipe out charges of corruption against the government.

“It is not the longevity that will decide the place in history, but the direction that you can give and it is not a glorious direction that he gave,” he said.

Taking potshots at the Prime Minister for referring to a particular phrase one too many times during his conference, Mr. Jaitley said: “The frequently used sentences in the conference were ‘it is up to historians to decide and time will tell’. In a democracy, time doesn’t tell, it is the voters who tell, and what voters say is bad news for Congress, mostly due to Dr. Manmohan Singh’s failures,” he said.

The BJP leader said that a decade is like a lifetime in a developing country and the Prime Minister could have given a direction to the country and expressed surprise that Dr. Singh considers the India-U.S. nuclear deal as a high point of his two-term tenure. “The lowest point of his tenure is the attempt at brining MPs to endorse the deal…” Mr. Jaitely said.

On whether the 2014 elections will be a face-off between Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and BJP’s PM nominee Narendra Modi, the BJP leader said, Mr. Modi will make a good Prime Minister and then in jest added: “Mr. Modi will make a good PM, time will tell.”

Mr. Jaitely said that even after 10 years of public service and in Parliament, if Mr. Gandhi is still being considered as an “untested” opponent, it speaks of how little impact he has had.

Former envoy Hardeep Puri who joined the BJP on Thursday said issues of internal security and contentious issues with Pakistan were entirely missing from the Prime Minister’s interaction. “It is surprising that while he talks of this romantic idea of going back to his village in Pakistan, there was not a single reference to internal security and Pakistan not doing anything to reign in the terror network,” Mr. Puri said.

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