Manmohan hits campaign trail — for last time as PM

Sivasagar (Assam), March 29: In his first campaign rally for this general election, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who steps down at the end of his 10-year tenure in May, Saturday criticised the BJP saying it has always played “a destructive role”.

Manmohan Singh, 81, an economist who once headed the country’s Reserve Bank and rose to be the prime minister, while addressing a rally for Congress’ candidate from Khumtai in Assam, described the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as a divided house without any direction.

“Their centre of attention is just one man,” he said in a reference to BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

“While in opposition, they have always played a destructive role. How can a party which divides the society give a good government?” he asked.

A prime minister since May 2004, Manmohan Singh has already declared that he is not seeking a third term and will demit office after the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Though he received requests from various states to campaign fo the Congress candidates, Manmohan Singh chose to go electioneering in Assam, a state he represents in the Rajya Sabha.

Addressing the public rally here, the prime minister said poverty declined three times faster under the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

“No other decade has recorded as much development as there has been in the last 10 years,” he said in a reedy voice.

The prime minister also said special attention was given to the marginalised and underprivileged in the society during his two terms.

He also listed the achievements of his government in sectors like health, agriculture, education and infrastructure development.

Manmohan Singh said the UPA government had laid special emphasis on the youth and several steps were taken to provide them skill training.

He admitted the failure of his government to check price rise “as much as was expected” and dismissed the allegations of corruption during the UPA’s tenure, and said that no government in the past had worked as much as his to check graft.

“We have ensured that the guilty in all instances are punished. We want to bring more acts to tighten the noose, but the BJP has not been cooperating,” he said.

IANS