Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari on Thursday again urged the government not to talk to Pakistan now, and blamed the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for the spiralling prices of food items.
In his first presidential address at the party's national council meet, Gadkari also took potshots at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, pointing out that he (Gadkari) was not a product of dynastic politics.
Referring to Saturday's Pune bombing which killed 11 people, Gadkari faulted the Manmohan Singh government for agreeing to talks between the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan in New Delhi Feb 25.
"Our diplomatic initiatives with Pakistan lack clarity, consistency and firmness," Gadkari said, addressing thousands of delegates gathered from across the country in a tented township near Indore city.
"On this entire backdrop and especially after the blast in Pune, I must put the BJP's firm view that talks and terror never can go together," he said.
"The UPA must realize that when terror stalks India, not talking with Pakistan is a legitimate diplomatic option."
Gadkari's views follow the sudden U-turn over India-Pakistan dialogue by New Delhi, which had earlier insisted that it would not talk to Islamabad until the latter stopped aiding anti-India insurgents.
Criticizing the central government over its Jammu and Kashmir policy, the BJP president said: "In this context, the party reiterates its strong opposition to any composite dialogue with Pakistan at this juncture."
Hitting out at what he said were the "wrong economic policies" of the UPA government, he held Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi mainly responsible for the rising prices of essential goods.
"The BJP puts the onus squarely on (Manmohan) Singh and Sonia Gandhi for the government's failure to reverse the price rise."
Gadkari, who was named the BJP president in December and formally took charge this month, said the government had failed to take the opposition into confidence on such national security issues as the India-US nuclear deal and the Copenhagan Summit.
He asked the government to hold "appropriate consultations with the opposition on a strategic approach to India-China relations," adding that Beijing's intransigence was coming in the way of a resolution of the border dispute.
Gadkari said the time had come for the BJP to increase its vote share by at least 10 percent by breaking new grounds so as to take power in the world's largest democracy.
"I ... appeal to all of you to leave no stone unturned to reach out to the underprivileged sections such as Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and minorities in a big way.
"Let us make a collective resolve to increase our vote share by 10 per cent by breaking new grounds and taking new initiative."
Gadkari was speaking on the second day of a three-day meet of the BJP national executive and national council, the first leadership gathering since he took charge of the country's main opposition party.