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BJP, Congress exchange barbs over Modi govt's agenda
Tuesday June 10, 2014 8:42 PM, IANS

The BJP Tuesday taunted the Congress over not being able to qualify for Leader of Opposition status in the Lok Sabha due to its low strength and hailed the leadership of Narendra Modi during the debate on the motion of thanks on the president's address. The Congress retaliated by saying that the NDA government's agenda was a "copy" of its plans.

The BJP attack was initiated in the Lok Sabha by Rajiv Pratap Rudy and led in the Rajya Sabha by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Rudy, who initiated the debate in the Lok Sabha, said the Congress had virtually been reduced to the status of a regional party and did not have the numbers to automatically qualify for the post of Leader of Opposition.

"We respect regional parties but never expected that a national party would be reduced to a regional party," he said.

He said the Leader of Opposition is involved in various selection processes such as that of Lokpal and CBI director and if the government needs to consult the opposition, whom should it consult. "It is a big crisis," he said.

He added the BJP-led government will take everyone along.

"The prime minister is a man with a big heart. But if suggestions are of the nature in which the country has been run in the last 65 years, we will not accept it," he said.

The debate on the president's address in the two houses will conclude Wednesday.

Leaders from AIADMK, Biju Janata Dal and Trinamool Congress spoke about their triumph in states ruled by their parties.

Rudy said the Congress, which had ruled the country for 55 years, now had 44 members in the Lok Sabha while the BJP which fielded less candidates than the Congress won 282 seats.

Rudy heaped praises on Modi in his speech for scripting the BJP's unprecedented victory in the election and described him as the party's future.

He said the best way to predict the future was to invent it. "BJP workers have invented Narendra Modi and that is our future."

Rudy, who spoke about the distance covered and the number of rallies addressed by Modi during the election campaign, faced frequent interruptions from opposition members, particularly those from the Trinamool.

He said Gujarat gave the country Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel. "This time, it has given a development man."

In the debate in the Rajya Sabha, Jaitley said the burden on the new government would be higher as people have huge expectations from it.

Taking a jibe at the Congress, Jaitley said they started believing their own propaganda.

"They (Congress) were believing their own propaganda. If you have done 90 percent of what has to be done, we have to do very little."

"Verdict against you (Congress) is not because people were angry about the balancing 10 percent work, it is about the state you left the country in," Jaitley said.

He also said there was nothing like copyright of ideas and Indian democracy was now evolving.

Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said the government should put a time limit to the promises made in President Pranab Mukherjee's address Monday.

"You don't have time-bound programmes. I request the government to tell what they can show after one year or 100 days as against what they will do in 10 years. They are forgetting that the report card of every government comes after five years," he said.

He said many of the schemes and promises made in the president's address had already been introduced by the previous UPA government.

He said if the BJP could go to 282 from two seats (in 1984), the Congress could again cross 400.

Kharge's party colleague and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said the party was prepared to play the role of a constructive opposition.

"The speech is a copied document, but you could have hired someone with better command on English to change the language of the document," Azad said.

AIADMK member M. Thambidurai said there was an anti-corruption wave in the country which led to the defeat of parties like the Congress and the DMK in the election.

Thambidurai said party supremo J. Jayalalithaa contributed to crystallizing anti-corruption sentiment in the country.

BJD leader Bhartruhari Mahtab said every election was an election of hope and the repeated success of his party in Odisha should also be seen in that light.

Kalyan Banerjee of the Trinamool said states should be considered equal partners in progress.

Meanwhile, officials said Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan will take a decision on granting Leader of Opposition status to Kharge.

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