The BJP on Thursday described Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Independence Day speech as “lacklustre and an outright disappointment” but hoped that the coming year -- in which general elections are due -- will usher in a new decade of growth.

The BJP was not impressed with the Prime Minister’s address from the Red Fort with party general secretary Rajiv Pratap Rudy describing it as “again an outright disappointment”. This was Dr. Singh’s 10th speech as Prime Minister.

“The country had large expectations from the Prime Minister on his parting Independence Day speech which was full of hollow claims. Country would have the PM to express his stand on issues of national security, especially in the backdrop of Pakistan attacking Indian soldiers and China intruding into Indian territory,” Mr. Rudy said.

Terming Dr. Singh’s speech as lacklustre, Mr. Rudy said that he was silent also on the state of the economy “which stands devastated”. The economist Prime Minister had not spoken on inflation, price rise and mis-governance, he added.

Making a sarcastic comment, the BJP leader said, “BJP would have been most shocked but the country would have been happy if Manmohan Singh had spoken on charges of corruption which the government is facing.”

The BJP Parliamentary party Chief L.K. Advani struck an optimistic note about the future.

“India has unlimited potential for the future. This past decade which -- as the Prime Minister said today -- will get over in 2014. He has enumerated the achievements and the shortcomings of this decade. We should now be concerned about making the decade starting from 2014 an unprecedented one in India’s history. We should give it the best performance we can,” Mr. Advani said.

Though the senior leader maintained that he would not like to criticise the prime minister and his government on Independence Day, he dropped subtle hints when he said he is reading a book on Black money.

“The theme of the book is that though capitalism is good, if ethics and morality are set aside and people indulge in corruption, then it gives capitalism a bad name,” he said.

Insisting that one should do such work that nobody can point fingers at them, Mr. Advani said the country should work towards making the 21st Century, a century of India where the world accepts that there can be no comparison with this nation.

The leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj took a dig at the Prime Minister for not mentioning the name of his immediate predecessor Atal Bihari Vajpayee while lauding the work of the earlier Prime Ministers.

“Dr Manmohan Singh referred to four Prime Ministers who contributed to the making of India -- all from the Congress party. He forgot even Lal Bahadur Shastri there. The contribution of Morarji Desai and Atal Bihari Vajpayee has been no less. This partisan approach does not go with the solemnity of this great occasion,” Ms. Swaraj said on Twitter.

BJP president Rajnath Singh said if voted to power his party will tackle internal and external security challenges facing the country.

He described the recent communal violence in Kishtwar as a “challenge to democracy”.

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