On a day when the BJP held a nationwide jail bharo drive against inflation and petrol price hikes, its ally Janata Dal (U) stumped it by obliquely speaking in favour of finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.
JD (U) leader Shivanand Tiwari sought to counter BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad’s attack on Mukherjee’s performance as finance minister. “Whoever had been finance minister, the same situation would have taken place. Even if Ravi Shankar Prasad had been the finance minister, the situation would not have been any better,” he said.
The attack from the ally – which is keen to maintain a calibrated distance from the BJP — came on a day when top BJP leaders, including Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, courted arrest in different parts of the country. Interestingly, the JD (U) has been a participant in many NDA rallies against corruption and inflation in the last two years. Clearly, the BJP was not impressed with Tiwari’s comments. “Tiwari should remember that two of his party colleagues were part of the Vajpayee government and had witnessed how it had contained inflation,” Prasad replied.
BJP spokesperson Tarun Vijay was harsher: “The Vajpayee government hadn’t allowed inflation to go up. The JD (U)-BJP government in Bihar has relieved the state of 15 years of Lalu Prasad’s misrule and the state is progressing. Why is the self-confidence of Shivanand Tiwari going down so much that he is speaking in favour of UPA?”