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PM sets impasse ‘record straight’

New Delhi, May 5: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today lashed out at the Opposition, accusing it of duplicity and holding it responsible for the impasse in Parliament.

'I would set the record straight... There is no resolution of the impasse. (But) it is not for want of trying on the part of the government or myself,' he asserted, intervening during question hour.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance has boycotted Parliament since last week.

The problem with the Opposition, Singh said, is that there is a world of difference between 'what they say and what they do'. It was important to point this out as the country should know the truth, he added.

An unusually combative Singh dismissed the BJP’s claim that its continuing boycott was the result of a lack of initiative by the Prime Minister and his government to end it.

Singh also accused the NDA of spreading falsehood through its recent memorandum to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. The memorandum had alleged that the Centre tried to prevail upon Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf not to meet former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee during his visit last month, he said. 'This is totally false.' Musharraf did call on Vajpayee.

The Prime Minister took serious exception to the 'language' used against him in the NDA memorandum, but did not elaborate.

He intervened after R. Chandrasekhara Reddy of the Telugu Desam Party, which returned to Parliament today, alleged that the boycott was prompted by the UPA’s 'casual' attitude towards the Opposition.

Singh said he had called Opposition leaders Vajpayee, L.K. Advani and Jaswant Singh soon after they announced the boycott and had told them: 'Let us end this chapter and all issues can be discussed on the floor of the House.' One of them had said they would decide after attending the House for the passage of the finance bill, he added.

'Therefore, the allegation that the House is not able to function because of anything that the government has done, is not borne out of facts.'

Singh urged the Opposition to be 'serious' and cooperate in conducting normal business in Parliament.

In the Lok Sabha, Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, too, dismissed the Opposition’s complaint that he had not written to Singh to ensure an end to the deadlock. Welcoming the return of the Desam members, he said it was not his job to write to the Prime Minister about the 'Opposition’s grievances against the government and the treasury benches'.

'It would have been, according to me, intrusion by the Speaker into an arena which should be left to the political parties to decide and resolve,' Chatterjee said. Although he had made daily appeals, verbally and in writing, to the Opposition to return to the House, it had not yielded results, he added.

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