Mukherjee: Fitting reply
New Delhi, Feb. 18: Yesterday, he blushed. Today, he blasted.
Foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee told leader of Opposition L.K. Advani the Congress-led regime had achieved through diplomacy what the BJP and its allies couldnt by creating war hysteria when they were in power.
The stinging comment came a day after the BJPs Prime Minister-in-waiting praised the 73-year-old veteran for his ability to shoulder responsibilities, which the Congress viewed as a backhanded compliment aimed at undermining the Prime Minister who is now recuperating from surgery.
Mukherjee had blushed a little yesterday.
Today, he returned the compliment, saying it would have been very difficult to carry on the coalition for five years without Manmohan Singhs leadership. Singh, PTI quoted Mukherjee as saying, was a very quiet man and then went on to say beware of the fury of a quiet man.
Replying to the debate on the motion of thanks to the Presidents address, Mukherjee said diplomacy has paid, not failed, alluding to Pakistans acknowledgement that part of the conspiracy behind the Mumbai attack was hatched on its soil.
We said non-state actors dont come from heaven and Pakistan has admitted it. We did not mobilise soldiers, did not lay mines along the border, did not press the panic button. We never talked about war and said Pakistan has to fulfil the commitments given to us, he added.
Mukherjee confronted the Opposition charge that the UPA government had done nothing except making hollow anti-Pakistan noises.
We know that attacking Pakistan is not the solution. I dont have to rub them on the wrong side. But unless the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack are brought to justice and the infrastructure provided to the terrorists is not demolished, we will continue to demand that (of Pakistan).
He insisted the action by Pakistan should be verifiable and credible.
Mukherjee took to task both the BJP and the Left — which too had hailed him yesterday as the man brought in to clean up the economic mess — for their criticism on several issues.
He rubbished the allegation that India had abandoned its policy of non-alignment under Americas influence. India, he pointed out, was the first to lodge protests against every single strike on Palestine by Israel.
Mukherjee ridiculed the governments former allies for taking credit for every good thing the UPA had done.
You supported us and we gave credit to every UPA ally for what we have achieved. We know it is not a Congress government.... and we didnt do these things alone. But dont take all the credit and leave the rest for us.