Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani on Friday said that in a democracy the buck must stop with the Prime Minister. “However in India, everyone knows that the Prime Minister's is not the last word.” Everything has to be endorsed by 10 Janpath, he charged, apparently referring to Congress president Sonia Gandhi. This situation was very dangerous for the country, he said, while addressing a public meeting here. Mr. Advani's ‘Jan Chetna Yatra' entered Mumbai earlier in the day. “One reason for the rising corruption is that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh does not have the last word,” he added.
“Rising food prices and inflation don't seem to end and the increasing level of corruption is responsible. The best economist cannot manage inflation if corruption is at this level,” Mr. Advani said.
Attacking Dr. Singh, he said he used to respect him when he was Finance Minister. However, things were different now. Rising inflation, especially food inflation, the spectrum scam and the Adarsh Housing Society scam had given a bad name to the country. “It is the first time that Ministers have been removed and then sent to jail.”
He thanked Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray and Republication Party of India (Athavale) group president Ramdas Athavale for their support at the rally.
“Those who have studied black money say that Indians have Rs. 25 lakh crore stashed away in Swiss banks. Imagine what can be done if that money is brought back,” he remarked. In politics “you must stand up for your ideals with courage.” He said while he didn't always agree with Trinamool leader Mamata Banerjee, he admired her firmness. He also praised Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray who did not worry about saying what was politically correct.
Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray said people were inspired by Mr. Advani and his enthusiasm and there were few leaders like him in this country. The Congress should look at its own party and see if it had leaders to match before it criticised the yatra. “It really doesn't matter who is going to be Prime Minister at this point,” he said.
Mr Advani was one of the two people in this country who had a sense of purpose and direction and leadership qualities.
Mr. Thackeray attacked Dr. Singh for his inaction when the country was going through a crisis. The new alliance with Mr. Athavale would work to finish off the Congress government, he said. It was not enough to merely shout slogans or take part in yatras, something concrete had to be achieved at the end, he added.
He also targeted Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and said he should have displayed the guts of Ms. Banerji who had threatened to pull out from the Centre if the government did not roll back the petrol price hike.