New Delhi: The speech by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the 66th Independence Day was meant to make a big push for the economic growth. It, however, did not come, leading to sharp criticism from the Opposition as well as yoga guru-turned-crusader Baba Ramdev.
In his 35-minute long speech, the Prime Minister put the blame for the current state of the economy on politics.
The Prime Minister said, "As far as creating an environment within the country for rapid economic growth is concerned, I believe that we are not being able to achieve this because of a lack of political consensus on many issues. Time has now come to view the issues which affect our development processes as matters of national security."
In his 35-minute long speech at the Red Fort, the Prime Minister put the blame for the current state of the economy on politics.
Though the address at the Red Fort touched upon several issues ranging from inflation, Lokpal bill, pension for army officers and the violence in Assam, it did not suggest any concrete steps on any of the fronts.
The opposition was quick to reject the address of the Prime Minister as uninspiring and routine.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said, "There was nothing new in the PM's speech. There was a lot of disappointment...a speech which has not given confidence to the nation. There was nothing on the problems that nation was facing like price rise, black money, inflation."
Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP strongman Narendra Modi also voiced dissatisfaction at the address, saying he heard the speech not as a Chief Minister but as a common man and that he was disappointed.
The BJP strongman said he was surprised to hear the Prime Minister talk about difficulties to control inflation or cite coalition compulsions.
Modi also accused the prime minister of waking up late to the issue of skill development in the nation.
Hitting out at the Prime Minister, Modi further said, "You have expressed concern about Assam, what about the violence in Mumbai?"
While the principal Opposition party, the BJP said Singh's address was "lacklustre" and "uninspiring" and that it did not address critical issues like corruption and price rise, the CPM said nothing new was said by the Prime Minister.
Former CPM MP Nilotpal Basu said the Prime Minister had not said anything new and that he only repeated his passion for economic growth.
"The PM hasn't said about the issues such as hunger and inflation which are affecting our country," he added.
Manmohan Singh also made no reference to the anti-corruption movements of Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev. The announcement that the Cabinet has agreed on the Public Procurements Bill also failed to impress the civil society.
Slamming the Independence Day address, Baba Ramdev, who had earlier taken potshots at the Prime Minister as he ended his fast at the Ambedkar Stadium, the yoga guru said, "We were expecting that the PM in his speech will say something on corruption but he finished the subject by speaking on Lokpal in just two lines. He did not mention when and how the Lokpall will come."
At a time when the country is battling inflation, poor rainfall and a whole lot of scams, the Prime Minister's speech was hardly reassuring. Perhaps the only positive was the announcement about the Mars Mission.
(With Additional Inputs from PTI)