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Target Modi in WTO hitback

New Delhi, Aug. 11: The Congress today claimed Narendra Modi had “shocked the entire world by his lack of knowledge”, in an unusual attack on the Prime Minister.

Referring to Modi’s statement at the BJP national council that the UPA’s signing the Bali pact had hurt Indian farmers and endangered the food security programme, Anand Sharma said: “If the Prime Minister is found ignorant in front of the world, it is a matter of shame for India.”

The Congress spokesperson continued: “What Modi said is untrue, shocking and aimed at misleading the country. His ministers and bureaucrats should have briefed him properly on the WTO issue. The PM has shocked the entire world by his lack of knowledge. He is expected to know India’s position and be literate on such issues.”

In the Rajya Sabha, the Congress demanded a clarification from Modi but the Centre opted for a response by junior commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The Congress, however, insisted that none other than Modi could clarify the position.

Sharma said: “Modi is continuing the Gujarat model; he has not answered a single question in Parliament, did not participate in any debate and is not responding to our specific question. He wants the shield of his ministers.

“We warned you of this model in advance — the Prime Minister does not believe in democratic institutions and wants to create an atmosphere of suspicion, mistrust and fear in the administration. We want a debate on this too.”

The Congress intends to raise the WTO matter again tomorrow and press for a response from the Prime Minister. The party has taken a tough stance after Modi’s public attack on the UPA regime.

Sharma said: “This government expects co-operation from the Opposition in legislative business but constantly shows ill-will and a confrontationist attitude towards the Congress. We have allowed Parliament to function but we want debate on critical issues. Any constructive co-operation is not possible in this atmosphere.”

The Congress spokesperson dared Modi to reject the Bali pact if he thought it had harmed Indian farmers. “I dare the Prime Minister to show courage to reject the Bali pact. After his boastful claims and bravado, he should make India’s position clear.

“Food security was never part of any global negotiations as it is the sovereign right of a country. Minimum support price is the issue and we, in Bali, succeeded in resolving the threat of action against India under the Uruguay round pact.”

Sharma continued: “Since the 1994 Uruguay pact, this issue wasn’t discussed. We found it wrong in 2013 and compelled big powers to discuss this and got the external reference price rejected. It was decided a permanent solution would be found in the interim period, by 2017, but no country could be challenged on the basis of the Uruguay pact.

“The government is misleading by saying that the matter is hanging because the Bali package clearly says the current scheme will continue until a permanent solution is reached.”