Prime Minister Manmohan Singh failed to give answers to significant questions asked at a press conference here on Monday, remarked Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley. He charged the head of the government with “deflecting” questions and “evading” answers.
The BJP was distinctly unhappy with Dr. Singh for pointing out the telecom policy — under which 2G spectrum was allotted and for which allegations of corruption had been levelled against Union Minister A. Raja — was laid down by the Vajpayee government in 2003.
The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha did not challenge the Prime Minister's assertion on this, but added that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had talked about market-determined prices and the 2001 prices not to be applied “today.”
Similarly, the BJP was equally dissatisfied with Dr. Singh for dismissing allegations of government interference in the functioning of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) by insisting that in all corruption cases the agency functioned under the Chief Vigilance Commissioner.
“The CBI changed its affidavits in some cases. There was no answer from the PM [Prime Minister] on why this was done, if there was no deal with some politicians,” Mr. Jaitley said in a reference to cases pending against U.P. Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati, Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad.
Meeting journalists a few hours after the Prime Minister's press conference ended, Mr. Jaitley once again indirectly referred to these three leaders when he said the BJP had established itself as the “genuine Opposition” as against the “phoney Opposition” comprising some “vulnerable leaders,” ignoring the fact that the BSP, the RJD and the SP are “supporting parties” of the United Progressive Alliance-II and not the “Opposition.”
The first year of any government ought to be one of enthusiasm, with the government implementing election promises. In the case of the UPA-II, the year of enthusiasm had become a year of disappointment, he said.
The Prime Minister talked, but he did not speak. He did not reveal his mind, Mr. Jaitley said. There was no clarity from him on the debate within his own party and government on issues related to Maoist violence. He did not spell out the government strategy on this while admitting it was the “biggest threat to internal security.”
Even more disappointing, according to the BJP, was Dr. Singh's response to a question on inflation, especially food inflation. “He has given the country false hope that food prices will come down by December, without listing steps taken by the government to tackle this.”
On India's Pakistan policy, the BJP's charge was that at Sharm-el-Sheikh, the government decided to leave behind the Vajpayee government's 2004 policy of linking any composite dialogue with Pakistan delivering on its assurance of not allowing terrorist activity against India from territory under its control.