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PM versus PM-in-waiting

Leader of the Opposition LK Advani launched a scathing attack on PM Manmohan Singh for pushing the nuclear deal in its present form without following “coalition dharma”. HT reports.

india Updated: Jul 21, 2008 23:51 IST

“The UPA has been reduced to a patient in an intensive care unit whose survival is in question,” he said, as he led the Opposition onslaught on the government.

Advani said the BJP was not against the nuclear deal for the same reasons as the Left, but emphasised that neither of them was responsible for the situation leading to the PM having to seek a vote of confidence.

“Please don’t blame anyone else. It is your government and in a way you, personally, and even the Congress President without whom you would not take a single step is to be blamed. The opposition has played no role in this,” Advani said, a reference to the Prime Minister describing the trust vote as a “wholly avoidable” situation.

But the deal was not the only issue, Advani said, accusing the government of “completely” failing on all fronts like providing electricity, roads, water, agriculture and irrigation to all, as promised in the Common Minimum Programme.

“Do not try to cover up your failures on all these fronts by the nuclear deal,” he said, demanding that the government in its reply tomorrow, speak about the success of security agencies in bringing to book terrorists responsible for attacks in the last four years. “Has anybody been booked or convicted?” he said after counting a string of blasts.

Earlier the PM set the ball rolling for the war of words and numbers in the Lok Sabha.

As he moved the one-line confidence motion, Singh regretted that the government had to seek a trust vote at a time its attention was on the economy, especially on controlling inflation and “implementing the welfare programmes for the people, particularly the farmers”.

He told the House that he and his government had taken all the decisions in the best interests of the Indian people. “I assure the House and the country that every single decision, every policy decision was taken in the fullest confidence that it was in the best interest of the people of the country,” he said, kicking off the debate on his first vote of confidence in a jam-packed Lok Sabha that also had President Pratibha Devisingh Patil glued to the television set in Rashtrapati Bhavan.

CPM leader Mohammad Salim, who spoke immediately after Advani, kept up the pressure on the government, accusing the Congress of betraying the Left on the nuclear deal. “We had not provided support to the government to go ahead with the nuclear deal… you have done diplomatic process outsourcing to the US”, he said. Salim also charged the government with having ignored the issues concerning common man like the price rise, since it was too obsessed with the deal.

Facing the Left for the first time in Parliament since it withdrew support, the Congress retaliated with an all-out attack on its former ally. External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who shed off his conciliatory tone towards the Left, dismissed the charge of betrayal. “The government decided to give the go-ahead to the IAEA to circulate the frozen text after the Left announced that they were withdrawing support”.

Singh had earlier taken a dig at the present leadership of the CPM, praising veteran Marxists Jyoti Basu and Harkishan Singh Surjeet for their “sagacity and visionary leadership” for helping to form the UPA government. The Prime Minister had, however, skipped the CPM general secretary Prakash Karat’s name, reflecting the bitterness between the two sides after new political realignments took shape.

Mukherjee also went ahead to accuse the Left of taking credit for the flagship schemes launched by the UPA government. “You have been claiming that things like the Right to Information Act and Forest Land Act for Tribals were implemented under your pressure. Factually this is not correct…”, he said.