A day after the curtains came down on the 15th Lok Sabha, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lashed out at the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), saying the central government had suffered from policy paralysis and leadership vacuum.
Sounding the poll bugle, BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley on Saturday addressed a press conference where they put the UPA-II's performance under the microscope. Jaitley described the UPA's second term as a "lost opportunity".
The duo accused the government of corruption and put emphasis on the disruptions in the just-concluded extended Winter Session, saying the Congress did not have any control over its ministers and leaders.
After storm, harmony and a little work on last day of 15th Lok Sabha
"The Congress party has no control over its ministers," Swaraj, leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha, said, raking up Congress MP L Rajagopal's pepper-spray protest against the passage of Telangana bill in Parliament.
The extended Winter Session from February 5 -21, arguably the most-disrupted in Parliament history, has seen unprecedented uproar over the Telangana bill, which finally got assent of both Houses in the face of demands for a united Andhra Pradesh.
Swaraj said the chaos in Parliament was a cause for concern — a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held out hope that the coming general elections would "give birth to a new atmosphere".
Manmohan in Parliament: calm but not assertive enough
Reaching out to voters ahead of the crucial 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Swaraj said, "The BJP is in power in five states — Gujarat, Goa, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The people will judge us on the basis of our performance in these states and as the Opposition party in Parliament."
Jaitley, leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha, launched a scathing attack on the central government. He said the UPA was voted to power by the people for the second straight term in 2009 amid high expectations.
"There was no doubt about the government's stability. Hence, quick decisions were expected. I see UPA-II as a lost opportunity. They had a great chance, but they threw it away."
Policy paralysis, leadership vacuum and corruption affected the government's performance, he said.
Lots of noise and very little work in this winter session of Parliament
"The Prime Minister generally has the last word (on important issues). But that was not the case," Jaitley said, taking a dig at Singh.
According to him, policy paralysis led to sluggish growth, price rise and freefall of rupee.
"Relations with international partners, including neighbours, were not at ease. There was strain even in the ties with superpowers," Jaitley said.
Interestingly, just a day ago when Parliament was adjourned sine die, the ruling and opposition sides had showered praises on each other, putting aside the unprecedented uproar in both Houses.
Home minister Sushilkumar Shinde had hailed Swaraj for the BJP's support to get the Telangana bill passed. Swaraj, in turn, had praised Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the PM and Shinde for their conduct.
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