M A I N   N E W S

PM puts Opposition on the mat
TDP ends boycott
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 5
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took the wind out of the sails of the Opposition stressing that there was a world of difference in what they say and what they do.

Dr Singh also stoutly objected to the Opposition charges that the government tried to prevent Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf from calling on former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

"I would like to point out the type of language the NDA and its responsible members have used against me in the memorandum they have submitted to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam....in which absolutely false things have been said," the Prime Minister said. He dismissed the accusations as totally false and felt pained that "this is the length to which the Opposition goes..."

Maintaining that neither he nor the UPA government can be faulted for want of trying in ending the impasse connected with the Opposition boycott, Dr Singh pointed out that as soon as the NDA announced the boycott he spoke to BJP President L K Advani, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Jaswant Singh and NDA Chairperson Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Taking exception to TDP's statement that despite the government's "vindictive and hostile" attitude they had decided to call off the boycott of Parliament to raise issues of national public importance, the Prime Minister regretted that the allegation "in my humble submission is not borne out by facts."

Mr Naidu said that the UPA government should treat the Opposition as friends and not enemies.

Dr Singh's sharp rebuttal in the Rajya Sabha today added to the problems to an already embarrassed NDA with the regional TDP deciding to break free from the Opposition boycott by returning to both the Houses of Parliament a day after the coalition resolved to continue the boycott for the rest of the Budget session which concludes on May 13.

At the same time the Prime Minister appealed to all the leaders of the Opposition to be serious and cooperate in conducting the business of the Lok Sabha as well as the Rajya Sabha. "The government is prepared to discuss all issues and there is no issue which I think is barred from discussion in the House," Dr Singh said.

The fissures in the NDA on the boycott issue became apparent as barely 24 hours back the NDA took pains to project unanimity.

"While condemning the vindictive and hostile attitude of the government, we would like to participate in the parliamentary proceedings under protest," TDP's parliamentary party leader K Yerran Naidu submitted in the Lok Sabha. "We decided to attend the proceedings to raise matters of public importance," he added.

The Opposition's ire is focussed on the government and the Prime Minister who rejected their demand to drop Union Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav from the Cabinet.

Expressing deep disappointment at the Opposition's continuing boycott, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said he had "almost every day" requested their MPs to participate in the proceedings and had promised to allow a discussion on all the issues permitted under the rules. 

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