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Naidu criticises Manmohan's address

By Our Special Correspondent

CHENNAI, JUNE 25. The Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh's address to the nation yesterday drew a sharp reaction from the Bharatiya Janata Party today.

Referring to Dr. Singh's observation on the Opposition's disruption of Parliament early this month, the BJP president, M. Venkaiah Naidu, asked: "Having been a mute spectator to his party's continued stalling of the proceedings of Parliament for the last five-and-a-half years, what moral right has the Prime Minister to speak on this issue?"

When the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance was in power, the Congress and the Left did not allow the then Prime Minister to make statements on "umpteen number of times." They also boycotted the previous Defence Minister, George Fernandes, for 22 months.

"Had he taken a different stand then, we would have appreciated his concern now," he told mediapersons here.

Describing Mr. Singh's address as "long on homilies and short on specific points of time-bound action," Mr. Naidu said that though he did not expect "wonders" to happen in a month, what the people had seen so far were "words, more words and mere words, and little concrete action."

He faulted Dr. Singh for making no mention of the "menace of corruption" and the "menace of cross-border terrorism." Till the Prime Minister continued to keep "tainted" Ministers, his moral posture would remain "suspect," Mr. Naidu said.

In response to questions on the fate of the NDA in the wake of the BJP deciding to "re-dedicating itself to Hinduvta," Mr. Naidu said that his party's stand would not have any bearing on the NDA. "Each party has its own ideology. Ours is Hinduvta. But, the NDA is based on a common agenda and understanding."

To questions on the "marginalisation" of the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Mr Naidu said that "there was no question of sidelining him. We can't even think of it. He remains our tallest leader."

The BJP would organise a nationwide mass awareness programme during July 6-13 to highlight the "softpedalling" of the Congress-led Government at the Centre on cross-border terrorism and attempts to "distort" Indian history in the name of de-saffronisation.

Mr. Naidu announced the constitution of a study committee on the plight of farmers in the wake of continuous and large-scale suicide by farmers of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. The committee, headed by the former Union Agriculture Minister Rajnath Singh, would hold discussions with farmers' organisations and submit a detailed report to the party. The panel included B.S. Yadiyurappa, Leader of the Opposition in the Karnataka Assembly, Gopinath Munde, president of the BJP's Maharashtra unit, and K. Haribabu, general secretary of the party's Andhra Pradesh unit. A three-member panel had been set up under the chairmanship of Anandi Charan Sahu, former Member of Parliament, to inquire into starvation death of tribals in West Bengal.

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