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|November 14, 1998||
BJP making a hash of governance, says Congress
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
The Congress today strongly criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party's "misrule" at the Centre and called for the party to be rooted out from the states going to the polls on November 25.
Presenting the salient features of the Congress manifestos for Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Mizoram, Pranab Mukherjee, chairman of the manifesto committee, underscored that under the BJP-led coalition, there had only been internal bickering instead of stable government.
Instead of giving the promised able leadership, the BJP had given the country drift, dissension, and discord, he said.
Stressing that the economic crisis had worsened in the last eight months, Mukherjee said the soaring prices of essential commodities, particularly onions, had brought misery on the people.
He accused the BJP of not taking any steps to curb rising prices because those who are profiting are its traditional supporters.
Alleging that rising crime and atrocities against women had rendered it impossible for the ordinary citizen to live peacefully, Mukherjee said the BJP government had also mismanaged the political and international fallout from the nuclear tests. Relations with China had deteriorated and Kashmir was in danger of becoming an international issue, he said.
Challenging the BJP's contention that the economic situation today is a legacy of the Congress, Mukherjee quoted statistics to prove that even the previous United Front government had fared better.
He accused Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha of having been aware of the situation just before the prices of vegetables skyrocketed and said he is now trying to pass the buck to the Congress.
He said the government had given the go-by to the planning process.
Claiming that India has been isolated on the Non-Proliferation Treaty, he wanted to know what the Jaswant Singh-Strobe Talbott talks had achieved after six rounds.
Describing the talks as a total failure, Mukherjee pointed out that the US deputy secretary of state just yesterday repeated that his country would never recognise India [and Pakistan] as nuclear-weapon states.
Asked whether the assembly elections would be a referendum on the performance of the coalition headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Mukherjee said the outcome would certainly reflect the people's views on the government.
Asked whether the Congress, if it came to power, would have prices rolled back, Mukherjee was discreet and said his party would ensure that inflation, which affects the poor the most, would be kept below 5 per cent.
Former finance minister Manmohan Singh contended that "inflation is the worst tax you can impose on the people, especially in a poor country like India". He demanded to know what impact the skyrocketing prices had had on agricultural labourers.
Contending that the country lacks "steady hands" in governance, Dr Singh said the BJP government had caused "all-round confusion".
He ridiculed Sinha's "a-package-a-day" style of functioning and called the latest promise to link all parts of the country with metal roads bogus. He said the people's "misery index" was rising.
Answering a query, Mukherjee said his party would not object to the facilities being extended to non-resident Indians because they had contributed a lot to nation-building.
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