New Delhi: The UPA II is attempting to dispel the perception of gloom amid scams and controversies as it completes four years in office. In his report to the people, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured that those involved in corruption will be punished and there will be 8 per cent growth if the UPA returns to power.
The photo op was there, but the spirit seemed to be missing. It was a truncated and in many ways a defeated UPA, which was meeting for the last time. The Samajwadi Party skipped the meet, though the Bahujan Samaj Party was present.
Under attack from the Opposition, both UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi firmly backed the Prime Minister. Sonia Gandhi said the government was firmly in support of the PM, who, she said, had withstood "the unrelenting hostility" with dignity. She also attacked the BJP for its "obstructionist approach" and not allowing Parliament to function.
"We are disappointed that Parliament is not allowed to function. We are unable to fulfil our duties due to the obstructionist approach of the Opposition. There has to be a calculative approach to control the spread of innuendos and misinformation," she said. She also said that the government had the greatest respect for the PM who was carrying out his responsibilities "with greatest dignity in the face of unrelenting hostility".
The Prime Minister in his report listed achievements of nine years and in fact took a dig at Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi by saying the glass would be filled soon.
But despite Rahul Gandhi insisting that he would concentrate on party work and that Manmohan Singh will remain the Prime Minister till 2014, voices of dissent continue to remain. Congress leader Madhu Yashki Gaud said he party members have to follow what the High Command says.
Despite a strong pitch by the UPA II, the Opposition remained unimpressed. "The government has manipulated things to be in power. People are tired of this corruption and misgovernance," BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
The UPA II dinner was in amny ways a forced celebration with the government being attacked by the Opposition over scams. Time is running out for the UPA to convince voters to vote it back to power in the Lok Sabha elections.