Manmohan Singh takes on LK Advani, calls him opportunist

Confident that the actions of his government spoke volumes of its performance, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday took on his opponent L.K. Advani and said it was for the people to judge who was fit to rule the country.

Responding to questions on the BJP leader’s oft-repeated charge that the United Progressive Alliance had a weak Prime , Dr. Singh pointed to Mr. Advani’s track record as Home Minister of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime.“What has he contributed to the national welfare? When he was the home minister, the attack on Parliament took place, troops were mobilised for 12 months (on the border) and withdrawn without any reason resulting in losses to the tune of crores of rupees, the Red Fort was attacked, a plane was hijacked and terrorists were rewarded,’’ the prime minister contended.

With his party president Sonia Gandhi seated by his side, the prime minister picked holes in his principal political adversary’s career, and alleged that the BJP leader had played “a prominent role in destruction of Babri mosque.’’ He added that Mr Advani, as the home minister, had “presided over massacres in Gujarat.’’Launching a bitter attack on the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Mr Singh also dubbed him as an “opportunist.’’

As for Mr. Advani’s suggestion that the Prime Minister should not be from the Rajya Sabha, Dr. Singh charged the Leader of the Opposition with trying to invent new constitutional norms. And, he pointed out that he was not the first Prime Minister from the Upper House as his predecessors — Indira Gandhi, H.D. Deve Gowda and I.K. Gujral — all started out from there.

Lamenting their negative attitude, Dr. Singh said that when the world — particularly the U.S., France, Russia and Kazakhstan — wanted India to move forward, “here are two regressive parties which want to take the country backwards.”

Dr. Singh was more scathing in his attack on the BJP, citing its endorsement of the speeches of the party candidate, Varun Gandhi, as a case in point.

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