Aggressive Manmohan Singh says UPA did better than NDA

Indo Asian News Service

New Delhi, March 6 (IANS) An unusually aggressive Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday took on the BJP saying the Congress-led UPA performed better than the BJP-led NDA and hoped the ruling alliance would be voted back to power in 2014.

"Our work and performance are the best judges," the prime minister told the Lok Sabha while replying to the discussion on the motion of thanks on President Pranab Mukherjee's address to a joint sitting of both houses of parliament.

He also expressed the hope that people would vote the ruling UPA back to power in 2014 as they did in 2004 and 2009.

Taking a dig at Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Rajnath Singh, the prime minister said: "Jo garajte hain, woh baraste nahin (thundering clouds do not produce rain)."

Stating that the BJP had hurled the "choicest abuses" against the Congress leadership, the prime minister said he would not reply in "that language".

Rajnath Singh had slammed the government in the house. The BJP's prime ministerial hopeful, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, had criticised the Congress and called it as "termites" and the prime minister as a "night watchman" at the BJP's national council meeting in Delhi Sunday.

Manmohan Singh said the performance of the UPA against that of the NDA was better on many counts like agriculture, GDP, per capita consumption in rural areas, health, literacy and regional equality.

The prime minister reminded the BJP that its "India Shining" campaign had been a disaster in the 2004 general elections and the opposition party did not gain by fielding senior leader L.K. Advani as its prime ministerial nominee in 2009.

"The people will repeat what they did in 2009," the prime minister said.

The prime minister reiterated the government's commitment to ensuring the dignity, safety and security of every woman in the country.

Noting that the economy has faced a difficult situation in the past year, the prime minister said he aimed to achieve an average growth of eight percent during the 12th Five Year Plan, along with inclusive growth.

"While our aim is to achieve an average GDP growth of 8 percent during the 12th Plan (2012-17), the focus will continue to remain on inclusive growth," he said.

He said the improved performance in agriculture was reflected in the growth of per capita consumption in rural areas.

"Agricultural growth in the UPA period was 3.5 percent compared with only 2.9 percent per year in the NDA period (1998-99 to 2003-04)," he said.

He said the government's policies led to a growth of 6.8 percent per year in real agricultural wages in the 11th Five Year Plan compared with only 1.1 percent in the previous decade.

Reflecting on the foreign policy, the prime minister expressed concern over the "political instability" in the Maldives and said India would continue to monitor the situation there as it was for a democratic and prosperous nation.

"We are concerned over the political instability there. We will continue to monitor the situation," the prime minister said.

"India is always for a democratic and prosperous Maldives," he said.

He expressed hope that there would be free, fair and credible presidential polls in the Maldives in September.

The prime minister said as China witnesses a transition in leadership, India should engage the new China confidently and constructively in a spirit of national consensus.

Manmohan Singh said the new leaders of China had conveyed to him their desire to strengthen the strategic communication and to forge a better future for bilateral relations.