Sushma, Jaitley assail Sonia’s ‘extra-constitutional’ role and PM’s ‘indecision, inability’

Hours before the brass of the United Progressive Alliance and like-minded parties gathered at the residence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on Wednesday, the BJP said the UPA’s ninth anniversary celebration was akin to a carnival of ‘gloom, pessimism and negativism.’

At a news conference here, Leaders of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley read out a charge sheet on the ‘all-round’ failure of the government, leaving citizens to cope with grave consequences.

The BJP leaders targeted UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi for her ‘extra-constitutional’ role, “denuding” the office of Prime Minister of its value like never before.

However, they ducked repeated questions on an alternative face to lead the country after the 2014 election, saying it would be decided at the ‘appropriate time’ by the BJP Parliamentary Board. To a specific question whether senior leader L.K. Advani was out of the reckoning, Ms. Swaraj told a reporter: “Who has told you that Mr. Advani won’t be there? As and when the Parliamentary Board meets, it would decide whether or not the party should project a prime ministerial candidate ahead of the election and if ‘yes’ who should it be. Mr. Advani’s name would very much be on the table.” Mr. Jaitley blamed Dr. Singh for the “failures” of the UPA-II government, saying the presence of two power centres and his “indecision, inability and silence” led to an environment of “gloom and pessimism” in the country.

“Rarely has the nation witnessed the kind of cynicism against the government as is prevalent today,” he said.

Both leaders contended that the UPA’s model of leadership was structurally defective as power did not vest in the Prime Minister. “Today, the Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, is synonymous with indecision, inability and silence. Never in history has been the institution of Prime Minister at the receiving end of wit, sarcasm and ridicule.”

The BJP also charged the government with showing a “callous disregard” for democratic institutions, be it the CAG, the CVC, the CBI, the NHRC or the Election Commission. “The SP and the BSP, which save this government, would not do so if the government did not misuse the CBI,” Mr. Jaitley said.

While Ms. Swaraj was confident that the BJP would rope more parties into the NDA fold, Mr. Jaitley dismissed the Third Front as a “failed idea” and said it did not exist.

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