Manmohan is leader neither of party nor country: BJP

New Delhi, May 22 (IANS) As the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) got down to celebrating its fourth anniversary, the BJP Wednesday trained its guns on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and said he was leader neither of his party nor the country.

Congress retorted to the comment, saying the Bharatiya Janata Party would sit in the opposition for the third time.

“For a coalition government, there is a need for a special leadership. I regret to say that in the UPA, Manmohan Singh is the prime minister but not leader. He is neither leader of his party nor the country,” BJP’s Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj told reporters here.

Addressing a press conference on the fourth anniversary of the UPA-II government, Sushma Swaraj said its leadership was divided. “In the cabinet, the UPA allies sit with the prime minister but for any solution to their problems they look towards the UPA chairperson (Sonia Gandhi).”

“This divided leadership is leading to uncertainty in the country. This is political failure.”

Her colleague, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley added: “They look towards the UPA chairperson for the present, to someone else for the future, as if there is no political role for the PM.”

Asked about the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Sushma Swaraj said the decision would be taken at an “appropriate time” and with “consensus”.

“We have said it, the decision will be taken at an appropriate time, by the parliamentary board. The allies will also be consulted. All decisions in the parliamentary board are by consensus,” she said.

She also said L.K. Advani was not ruled out.

Responding to a question on whether Advani was out of the race for the top post, she said: “I never said that.”

The Congress retorted the attack saying the BJP was likely to get a third term in opposition.

“We are bemused at the lack of a responsible opposition… History will judge the negative role they have played persistently,” Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury told reporters.

“We fear that the BJP will repeat a hattrick of sitting in the opposition as they have no collective goal and no cohesion in their ranks,” she said.

Party leader Rajeev Shukla said: “We are not concerned with what the opposition has to say.”

UPA is set to bring out a report on its achievements Wednesday evening. Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said the comments should have come after the UPA had made its report public.

“All have the right to express their opinion. But if they would have reacted after we made our report public it would have made sense,” he said.

Discussing the economic failures of the United Progressive Alliance government, Sushma Swaraj said: “When the NDA had come to power, we had inherited a crumbling economy. But when we left the government, we gave them a booming economy.”

The BJP leader said the UPA-II had crossed all limits as far as corruption was concerned. “There was not so much corruption in the UPA-I. One scandal leads to the other. The amounts are mind-boggling.”

Jaitley added that the UPA-II’s fourth anniversary was being celebrated in a negative and pessimistic environment.

“The propaganda is not being accepted by the country. All opinion polls point to the fact that the Congress and UPA are losing their popularity fast,” Jaitley said.

“Never in history has the prime minister’s post been so diminutive.”

With the elections only months away, the UPA-II government will present a final report card to mark its fourth anniversary.

The ‘Report to The People 2013’, which will be released by the prime minister, is expected to try to blunt the opposition attack with statistics.

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