The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pat for PM with prod to be firmer

New Delhi, Aug. 31: “As a citizen of India, I am proud of you and I appreciate your approach. You have added glory to the chair of the PM by denying to discuss national issues in the drawing room.”

The Prime Minister’s mailbox has been flooded with messages such as this one sent by A. Singh, who lives in Dwarka in the capital, after he refused to accept an NDA memorandum with suggestions on the budget last Thursday. Manmohan Singh told the delegation, led by .K. Advani, that the forum for a discussion on the Finance Bill was Parliament, not his office.

The Opposition raised a hue and cry, claiming its leaders had been insulted, and Atal Bihari Vajpayee stepped in to call Singh “impolite”.

But the Dwarka resident who wrote to the feedback website created by the PMO — and many others — did not think so. Instead, he asked why “people’s representatives” were shying away from discussing issues in Parliament.

The budget was passed without debate amid an unprecedented Opposition boycott and the House adjourned sine die a week ahead of schedule.

“I like the way you reacted,” said John Thomas, from Kerala’s Kannur district. “Let them come to Parliament and discuss those issues. You really deserve appreciation.”

Those who did not allow Parliament to function and did not want to discuss the matter in the House have no right to submit the memorandum, he said, making the point Singh had made.

Since the controversy broke, the Congress has taken the stand that the “whole country knows about Manmohan Singh’s modesty and integrity and he does not need a certificate from the NDA”.

The words of Palanivel, who wrote from Karur, would be music to the ruling party’s ears. “We, the whole nation, believe you and have faith and high respect for you and we are all with you,” he said, advising the Prime Minister to reject the demand for a public apology. “I understand that the irresponsible Opposition party is demanding a ‘public regret’ for the alleged ‘insult’. Please do not give in.”

The applause was not limited to India’s shores. Swanand Gore, who lives in the UK, said: “Your firm handling of unruly Opposition in terms of refusing their budget amendments was really good. Parliamentarians need some discipline and Parliament needs to work as an effective platform to debate policies and not as a protest morcha.”

Some people were not entirely satisfied — but not because the Opposition had been rebuffed. J.M. Manchanda of New Rajinder Nagar in Delhi said: “Allow me to suggest that the concerted attack by NDA alleging impolite and discourteous behaviour should have been countered more effectively by your office. It should have been clearly said that while the PM is always willing to meet and receive inputs from all, the dialogue cannot become a substitute for the legislative process. The enlightened opinion has largely been on your side but false propaganda must be answered and countered directly.”

Contacted on the Net, Manchanda said the NDA leaders behaved like they were members of a traders’ delegation going to petition the Prime Minister instead of using their right to seek amendments to the budget in Parliament.

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