President’s Address “disappointing”: BJP, UPA supporters

NEW DELHI, Feb 27: ¬†Describing the President’s Address as “disappointing”, BJP and some UPA supporters today charged the government with failure on several fronts – from low agricultural growth, plight of farmers, price rise, national security to corruption and relations with neighbours.

“The government has tried to set its political agenda for the polls through the President’s Address but it neither has any direction, vision, resolve or willpower to deal with the challenges facing the country,” BJP President Rajnath Singh said in the Lok Sabha.

Speaking on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address, Singh attacked the government on a host of issues.

“This Address is very disappointing…. There is no reason for any cheer on the agriculture front. The government has cited the Five-Year Plan figures which should never be considered a parameter for agricultural growth and is an attempt at a cover-up. There has been only 1.8 per cent growth in the agriculture sector in the last year,” he said.

The BJP leader alleged that “wrong economic policies, wrong economic planning and corruption” in the UPA government were responsible for the current situation.

“The government should not try to build castles in the air through the President’s Address,” Singh said.

Government’s allies were also scathing in their attack with Samajwadi Party Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav faulting it on issues like economy, internal security as well as foreign policy. “No step has been taken to check inflation. Any government with courage can take measures to control it,” he said.

Earlier, initiating the debate on the Motion of Thanks, Congress member P C Chacko defended the government, saying it is no way a sign of policy paralysis that the country has emerged as the largest producer of wheat and rice in the world and is also the top milk producer. “We have become a model to the world,” he said.

Chacko said he expected a “dream budget” from Finance Minister P Chidambaram tomorrow and dismissed the opposition charge that the government was hit by policy paralysis.

He insisted that plans to bring Food Security Bill in the current session showed the commitment of the Congress-led government towards the poor.

Seeking cooperation of the opposition for passage of the ambitious measure, he said it is being brought forward to ensure that no one goes to bed hungry in the nation of 1.2 billion people.

In an oblique attack on the Left, he said there are “so called parties which are dwindling day by day” but are still clinging to their old ideology.

Asking the Left to take a leaf out of the Communist Party of China, Chacko said though there was no right to private property in the communist giant, the wealthiest man there is the wealthiest in the world.

He said the Left parties made Indo-US nuclear deal, the main issue in the Kerala polls, but did not do well. “This showed that outdated philosophy will not succeed.”

Besides, he claimed several non-Congress governments were “surviving” because of national flagship programmes like MGNREGA and JNNURM, saying it showed the UPA government was not discriminating against any such government.

Chacko’s reference to the ‘coffin scam’ led to noisy scenes with BJP members on their feet.

Girja Vyas (Cong) compared the performance of the erstwhile NDA government and that of the Congress-led coalition, claiming “our work will be remembered as an example in national history.”

In spite of the ongoing global recession, the UPA government has ensured at least a 5.4 per cent GDP growth which is “not less than a miracle”, she said.

Referring to a US report on countries hit by terror attacks and the latest Hyderabad blasts, Vyas said India’s position was the fourth after Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan which is a matter of serious concern and called for a “united fight” against terrorism.

Similarly, unity was required to fight the menace of communalism, she said, and made a fervent plea that religion should not be used for political purposes.

Observing that some non-Congress state governments had opposed the formation of the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), she said these states should support the move of the UPA government as the country needed strong laws and institutions.

The BJP President asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to clarify government’s stand on what it was doing for farmers, improving relations with neighbours and other issues.

“Being an economist is not enough to run the country. Being a pragmatist is more important,” Rajnath Singh said.

Singh and Yadav hit out at the government for “not doing enough” for farmers.

“Who doesn’t know that the farmers are forced to commit suicide or forced to sell their kidney. They are not getting the right price for their produce. Though the Minimum Support Price is fixed by the government, middlemen are taking their away their crops for less,” Singh said.

He demanded a special session of Parliament to discuss issues related to agriculture alone and this was seconded by several members from BJP and other parties. “An Integrated Action Plan should be passed by Parliament for agriculture,” he said.

BJP pledged its full support to the government on the Food Security Bill and praised the Raman Singh regime in Chhattisgarh for successfully running a similar scheme.

Yadav posed questions to the PM on these issues. “You have been Prime Minister for the last nine years. Please do something for farmers, workers and weaker sections,” he said.

He warned that the country faces threat of terror strikes and a war with China. He said India should be cautious about China as it can “never be a friend of India”.

Singh too spoke on the threat from China and suggested that India should “for the time being” lower its level of diplomatic relations and confidence building measures with Pakistan till terror acts do not stop. (PTI)

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