New Delhi: A combative Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today made a scathing attack on the BJP in the Rajya Sabha, accusing them of hurting investors' sentiment by repeatedly disrupting Parliament, triggering a war of words.
He asked the principal opposition party to recognise its responsibility of ensuring smooth functioning of Parliament asserting that it was not the responsibility of the government alone as contended by the BJP.
“Building of consensus is both the responsibility of government and the opposition. I wish the conduct of the opposition party was consistent while letting the ruling party govern,” he said responding to clarifications on his statement on the sliding Rupee.
Attacking BJP for continuously “opposing and criticising” the government, he said, “If the record of the last nine years is looked at, the principal opposition has never reconciled to the fact that it was voted out of power nine years back.”
Amid repeated disruptions and din due to clashes between the Treasury Benches and the BJP, the Prime Minister noted that Parliament is the supreme body of the country but if it is not allowed to function session after session, investors' confidence will be affected.
Hurt over being targeted by BJP, Singh asked the Chair, “Have you heard of any country where the Prime Minister is not allowed to introduce his council of ministers...
“...Have you heard of Parliament in any country where the opposition shouts ‘Prime Minister chor hai'. The type of things that have been said here....”
At one point, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley shot back saying, “have you heard of any country where the Prime Minister has won the vote of confidence by buying MPs?”, triggering uproar.
The reference was to the July 2008 Trust Vote sought by the Prime Minister in the wake of Left parties withdrawing support on the Indo-US nuclear deal issue.
As the Prime Minister made the unusually aggressive remarks against BJP, Jaitley shot back, “We don't want to hear alibis for failure.”
Dissatisfied with Singh's statement and his replies to the clarifications, BJP members staged a walkout.
Singh earlier said it was not correct to say investors had lost confidence in India and noted that repeated disruptions of Parliament were affecting investor sentiment.
“I am not making a partisan point. If you are conscious of investment, both foreign and domestic, the conduct of Parliament is important course,” he said, adding “There is a need for consensus and building a consensus is that (job) of both.”
Recognising that there is a problem that needs to be resolved, he asked BJP to recognise this.
“I do recognise that there is a problem. This can be resolved only if opposition does recognise its conduct in Parliament. This is not something that can be done unilaterally. It takes two to clap,” he said.
Acknowledging the need for taking corrective measures, he said, “There is a problem that foreign investors should not get wrong signals.”
On corruption, the Prime Minister said, “Corruption is there, has been there. But in recent years, the RTI and the activism of various agencies has brought out certain things which are regrettable...These activisms should not be used for disruption of Parliament.”
He, however, said his government has “no desire to protect the guilty” and the investigative agencies and courts were doing their job in bringing the guilty to book.
On the missing files of coal block allocation scam, Singh said, “I am not the custodian of files” that led to uproar, with BJP members questioning him “Then who is?”
“I appeal to Leader of the Opposition and all members of the House to recognise that there is a collective responsibility we owe to out country that India remains a bankable, creditable investment opportunity,” he said.