A day after their verbal jousting in Rajya Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley on Saturday said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s attitude was one of “anger” and “pessimism” and this shows he has “run out of ideas” for reviving the economy.
Referring to the Prime Minister’s statement on Friday in the Upper House on the state of the economy and the subsequent debate, Mr. Jaitley said, “Instead of telling us about the roadmap to improve the economy he was angry and pessimistic. This attitude means you have no ideas on how to revive the economy. You have run out of ideas.”
Mr. Jaitley was speaking at a conclave of BJP’s Legal and Legislative Cell in New Delhi.
In a rare combative mood, Dr. Singh had said on Friday that frequent disruptions by the opposition was responsible for the government not being able to pass important legislations.
He had asked whether there is any other Parliament where the Opposition attacks the Prime Minister and does not even allow him to introduce his council of ministers.
Mr. Jaitley had hit back at the government on corruption.
“Till Friday he (PM) had been maintaining a silence. To be silent for a long time is not good. Silence is golden only when you cannot think of an answer,” Mr. Jaitley said at the BJP programme, adding, “It is extremely dangerous when the head of the country becomes cynical, pessimistic and cannot suggest a roadmap.”
Referring to his exchange of words with the Prime Minister, Mr. Jaitley said Dr. Singh’s attitude reminded him of the habit of lawyers of banging the desk “when they cannot bang the facts or bang the law as they are weak on both”.
Mr. Jaitley also lambasted the JD(U) government in Bihar for playing vote bank politics on the issue of terrorism and said in the case of IM founder Yasin Bhatkal’s arrest, the state government refused to cooperate “because its vote bank will be affected”.
“State governments will also have to think of their responsibility in the fight against terrorism. Who lives if India dies?” Jaitley said.
Commending the security agencies, he said all facts about Bhatkal’s arrest at Raxaul—Nepal border should come out to expose who performed his duty and who did not.
JD(U), which was an NDA ally for 17 years, broke off from the alliance after the elevation of Narendra Modi as BJP Election Campaign Committee Chief fearing it will lose the minority votes.
“In the Batla House encounter case, for five years we had been hearing that it was a false encounter. Such a stand is taken by political parties for vote bank politics,” he said.
The BJP leader charged that POTA was repealed with this aim in mind. BJP, he maintained, has a firm belief in protecting the nation and to be united in all matters of national security.
The fight against terror has to be fought by rising above caste and religion, he said.
Mr. Jaitley insisted that there is a strong anti-incumbency and claimed that corruption and slowdown in the economy will be prominent issues in the next general elections.
“This government seems to have lost control over the economy and has completely failed to manage it,” he said.
Noting that due to the falling Rupee our imports -- including petroleum, edible oil, coal and mobiles -- will become costlier, he said, “You are importing inflation into the country.”
Referring to the GDP figures announced on Friday, MR. Jaitley said the fall in growth rate is a cause for concern and will impact employment.
“For long the world has been warning us that there is a policy paralysis but the government is busy in trying to cultivate its vote bank. But today they neither have the vote bank nor a strong economy,” he said.
Mr. Jaitley maintained that instead of prices going down as buying capacity of the people is falling, there is high inflation. “At times, one fears that we are moving towards stagflation,” he said.