Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh break his silence on the issue of Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways T.R. Baalu using his influence to get gas supply for his sons’ firm.

Addressing a press conference here, former party president M. Venkaiah Naidu referred to the Prime Minister’s Office sending letters on eight occasions to the Petroleum Ministry for expediting the allocation of natural gas to the firm. “Let the Prime Minister clearly explain what prompted his office to take up the issue.”

Mr. Naidu termed “personal,” the views expressed by Brajesh Mishra, National Security Adviser under the National Democratic Alliance regime, on the United States-India civilian nuclear deal.

He said there was no question of the BJP supporting the deal as the agreement, in its present form, went against the interests of the nation. The party was for close ties with the U.S., he said.

Karnataka polls

When pointed out that the BJP had promised several freebies in the Karnataka Assembly elections whereas it had opposed similar assurances given by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam two years ago in the run-up to the Tamil Nadu Assembly polls, Mr Naidu said his party had framed its strategy in response to what the Congress had promised in Karnataka.

As for his party’s promise of supplying rice at Rs.2 a kg, he said it was only meant for the poor.

It was needed when the vulnerable sections of society were hard hit by price rise. He said the party was developing the concept that right to food should be treated as part of the right to life and included as part of the fundamental rights.

On the promise of providing colour television sets, he said the sets would be given to village community halls.

On price rise, the senior BJP leader said certain Union Ministers were colluding with manufacturers.