First Cong-BJP face-off in Par after Modi Govt

NEW DELHI : In the first face-off in Parliament after the Lok Sabha polls, Congress today tore into the Narendra Modi dispensation’s agenda and asked it to work without “arrogance” while the Government slammed the previous UPA rule as being responsible for bad state of the economy.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Manmohan Singh Government had left the country with low growth, high inflation, low tax collection and “elevated” poverty and vowed to resurrect the economy with a strong Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the helm.

In his first speech as a minister, Jaitley also sought to allay apprehensions on account of treatment to minorities, saying the Government will have a “compassionate” and non-discriminatory” approach and will take “strongest” steps to ensure social harmony and national security.

Quoting Modi’s oft-repeated statement that participation of states was important for country’s growth, he said the Government will take states along irrespective of “political colour” and address their issues.

Intervening during debate on Motion of Thanks on the President’s address in the Rajya Sabha, Jaitley said NDA has come to power riding on “high expectations” of people which has put greater “burden” on the Government to perform.

“The message of the last elections was clear — perform or perish,” he said, adding that the UPA had been voted out of power because of its “bad performance” and the NDA won due to “anti-incumbency” and “hopes” in BJP, particularly Modi.

The Government will work for pushing the country’s growth which has been stuck at the “disappointing” level of less than five per cent for the last two years.

Congress, which has been reduced to just 44 members in the Lok Sabha, termed the vision outlined in the President’s address as repackaging and “copying” of UPA’s agenda and asked the Government not to be arrogant.

Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said the small number of members in the House will not discourage his party from keeping up the pressure on the Government to ensure implementation of people-oriented programmes, just like few Pandavas were not afraid of 100 Kaurvas in Mahabharata.

Amid thumping of desks, including by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Kharge expressed confidence that the party will bounce back to power and NDA should not think that it will continue to be in office forever.

Jaitley, while taking dig at the UPA, said in the last Lok Sabha polls the people had rejected parties which depended on dynasties, family politics, caste and vote-bank politics besides those who indulged in “political opportunism” such as switching alliances and those having taints of corruption.

Unlike “arithmetic of alliances, this was more about the changing chemistry on the ground. Traditional votebanks have been smashed. Those who govern badly and thought that caste would save them, have been trounced,” the BJP leader said.

Targeting the UPA Government, he said it had inherited 8.5 per cent growth rate from NDA Government and it is leaving behind a growth rate of less than 5 per cent for the last two consecutive years with inflation and fiscal deficit “abnormally high” and low tax collection.

Suggesting that the mess, including the 2G and coal block allocation scam, was mainly because the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was not “tough”, he said, “you cannot run the Government where Prime Minister does not have the last word. Prime Minister must be having authority to overrule others.”

He contended that “enthusiasm in Indian economy was shattered. Domestic investors were moving out. If there is no investment, there is no job. You have left the country, in your own words, not at poverty alleviation, but at elevated poverty.”

Underlining that Modi would be having the “final say” in decision-making, he said, “Election results itself have become an important political statement. Once again domestic and foreign investors have started looking at India. Therefore, for us, who are the repository of public confidence, the onus is on us whether we can convert this into opportunity or not.”

Kharge commented point by point on the new Government’s agenda and highlighted achievements of the previous UPA Government over the last ten years.

“Nothing new has been said…We need to put the record straight. Modi only repackages what is already done…All these things have been repackaged in the name of Modi,” Kharge said in his 45-minute speech which was appreciated by Sonia Gandhi as well as Rahul Gandhi.

Kharge said BJP is good at marketing things and emphasised that talks alone would not help in filling the stomach of poor people. (AGENCIES)


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