An unusually aggressive Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday employed economics and Urdu poetry to exude confidence in his government’s ability to ward off any challenge from the BJP in the 2014 polls.
Replying to the debate on the motion of thanks to the President’s address in the Lok Sabha, Singh opened his offensive — without mentioning names — by referring to the tough speeches against him at the just concluded party conclave, particularly by Gujarat CM Narendra Modi.
Singh compared the performance figures of his government in the past nine years with that of the NDA rule from 1998 to 2004 to assert that the people would vote the Congress back.
He went on to say, “The BJP fielded an iron man (in 2004) who said Manmohan Singh is the weakest PM. We all know what happened. People will repeat the same feat.” He also called the BJP’s India Shining campaign “a disaster”.
Singh, known for his quiet demeanour, appeared to allude to Modi while saying, “Jo garajte hain, woh baraste nahi (barking dogs seldom bite).”
Stating that he would “not use the same language as the BJP” when its leaders had made “choicest abuses” to belittle his government’s achievements, the PM said, “Humko hain unse wafa ki umeed, jo jante nahee hain wafa kya hain (we hope for loyalty from those who do not know the meaning of the word).”
In response, leader of the opposition Sushma Swaraj recited a poem: “Kuch toh majboorian raheen hongee, yun hee koi bewafa nahee hota (there must have been some compulsions. One is not disloyal for no reason at all).”
BJP president Rajnath Singh, also a Lok Sabha MP, said he had never seen the PM so aggressive. “Main isko accha sanket maanta hoon kyunki mujhe lagta hai ki diya bujhne se pehle lau sabse tez jalta hai. Iska matlab hai ki aap ki sarkar bujhne wali hai (I see it as a good sign because the flame burns brightest just before it is about to die. The flame of your government is about to die).”
Earlier, the PM made comparisons between the NDA rule that preceded his first government in 2004 and the achievements of the UPA.
“The best I can do is to compare the nine years of UPA with the six years of the NDA. People can compare and decide what has been done. Our average growth rate in these nine years has been 7.9%, during the NDA tenure growth was not more than 6%.”
He said, “During UPA rule, poverty declined by 2% compared to 0.8% during the previous regime. The industrial growth rate is 8.5%, while it was 5.6% during the NDA rule.”
Speaking about the state of the economy, the PM admitted inflation had been a persistent problem and that India had faced a difficult situation in the past. But sounding an optimistic note, he said the UPA government was capable of bringing the economy back on the growth path.
“Our focus remains inclusive growth. We are faring better than global economies. However, difficulties remain. We are capable of bringing the economy back on the growth track. We can grow at 7-8%,” he said.