Urges Congress workers not to use words that go against the party’s “dignity”

In the backdrop of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s unrelenting attack on Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hit back at the BJP on Saturday, saying “bad” language used against political rivals did not bring any dignity to the Opposition party.

He also criticised the Raman Singh-led BJP government in Chhattisgarh for failing to curb naxalism, arguing that the fruits of development had not reached the areas where the Naxals dominated and the government had failed to provide sufficient security to Congress leaders who were killed in a militant ambush in May this year.

“We should criticise Opposition parties and their policies with which we do not agree. But, we have to distinguish ourselves, especially from the BJP some of whose leaders use bad language against other party leaders and Chief Ministers,” Dr. Singh said without naming anyone. He said Congress workers should refrain from using words that were “insulting” and went against the “dignity” of the party.

Addressing party workers at an indoor stadium here, Dr. Singh said it was legitimate for parties to aim for power. “But to achieve the goal, no party should follow the route of cheap publicity... Elections to the Assemblies and the general election are nearing. Keeping this in mind, Opposition parties are making various claims. Some senior Opposition leaders are saying things which are not based on facts,” he said. On many occasions, “over-excited BJP leaders change history and geography of the country.”

“The people of Chhattisgarh and India are aware that parties that talk big are not capable of coming to power... We should alert the people to parties that have communal ideology but are talking about secularism to mislead people,” he said.

Criticising the State government for the Maoist ambush, Dr. Singh said such incidents reflected the law and order situation in Chhattisgarh. “The Jhiramghati incident reflects the bad law and order situation. Providing security to people is one of the primary responsibilities of any State. The BJP government of Chhattisgarh has failed to fulfil its responsibilities.”

“They [the Chhattisgarh government] say that after the May 25 incident, they were sensitive to the happenings. But what they don’t say is that there were serious lapses owing to which Congress leaders and security personnel lost their lives. They do not say security was not provided to Congress leaders because of political differences,” he said.

Dr. Singh held the State government responsible also for high infant and maternal mortality rates. The BJP praised Chhattisgarh’s Public Distribution System, but failed to mention that 90 per cent of the subsidy for it came from the Central government.

He said the Centre had planned several projects for the State, including an IIT and AIIMS, but they could not be implemented because of non-cooperation from the Raman Singh government.

He said 24 big projects were planned. These included the Dipka and Gevoz coal expansion projects, the Bhilai steel power plant project and NTPC’s super thermal power project, costing Rs. 33,000 crore. He said special assistance was extended to 14 Naxal-affected districts.

Highlighting the UPA government’s achievements and comparing them with the rule of the BJP-led NDA, he said: “The economy grew at 5.4 per cent during the NDA rule, but it grew by 8 per cent during the UPA rule. Per capita income increased by 3.7 per cent during the NDA regime, but under UPA it grew by 6.5 per cent. Between 2004 and 2009, poverty declined three times than the last 10 years.”

Rural areas and small towns had prospered and the States once considered backward had seen rapid development. “Agricultural produce has increased and we are the largest rice exporter. The increase in production has enabled us to come out with the Food Security Bill. Because of this, Chhattisgarh will also receive foodgrains at a cheaper rate than before,” he said.

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