‘They fielded the Iron Man Advani against the lamb that I am. What was the result?’
As UPA-II is about to enter the last year of its five- year term in May and prepares for next year’s polls, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the new BJP president, Rajnath Singh, on Wednesday locked horns over who would be the people’s choice.
While the normally soft-spoken Manmohan Singh, raised his voice and challenged the BJP, stating that “I am convinced that if the people of India were to look at our [UPA] record in these nine or 10 years, they would repeat what they did in 2004 and 2009 [polls],” Mr. Rajnath Singh remarked that a dying flicker shone bright.
The Prime Minister was replying in the Lok Sabha to the debate on the motion of thanks to the President for his address to the joint session of Parliament. He said: “A few days ago, a conclave of the National Council of BJP assembled in Delhi, used the choicest abuses for the Congress establishment and Congress leadership, including myself. It is not my intention to reply them in that language because I do believe that our work and our performance are the best judges of what we have achieved.”
Quoting a Hindi couplet, he said: Jo garajte hain, woh baraste nahi (‘mere thunder does not bring rains’).
Dr. Singh did not spare BJP senior leader L.K. Advani either. He said, “The India Shining campaign in 2004 led to disastrous results for the BJP. In 2009, they fielded iron man Advani against the lamb that Manmohan Singh is, and we all know what was the result.”
He went on further attacking the BJP. “What has been achieved [by the UPA government] is not something which can be belittled as Rajnath Singh tried to do.”
Not to be taken aback, Mr. Rajnath Singh referred to Dr. Singh’s sudden “aggressiveness” [against the BJP] and said the UPA regime had failed to uphold democracy in Jammu and Kashmir and handle Telangana and other issues.
The Prime Minister said the UPA government was fully capable of putting the country back on a high growth path of 7 to 8 per cent per annum in the next two to three years. During his 45-minute speech, he reeled out statistics to highlight how the UPA (during its nine-year rule) outperformed the six-year NDA regime in economic growth, GDP, agricultural production, per capita rural growth rate, industrial growth, education and skill development.