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BJP serves up a chargesheet against UPA

BJP serves up a chargesheet against UPA
Ravi Shankar Prasad, deputy leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said that when the BJP started discussing cases of corruption under the UPA, the party found it difficult to decide which scams to highlight. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
New Delhi: In an apparent bid to train the focus away from its prime ministerial candidate to the issues at hand, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday put out what it called a “chargesheet” against the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), highlighting alleged corruption, failure to contain inflation and a poor record on job creation.
The chargesheet dubbed A Dark Decade In Governance was also used by the BJP to politically target Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi. The UPA has been in power for 10 years after it won back-to-back elections in 2004 and 2009.
The document set the stage for the unveiling of the BJP manifesto, which is scheduled for Monday. Both the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party have already presented their manifestos.
“The BJP’s chargesheet is a work of fiction, a pack of lies, and nothing more than that. With a negative agenda like this, they have tried to put a question mark on the progress of this country in the last five years many times,”Randeep Surjewala, a Congress spokesperson, told reporters on Friday.​
Pointing to the scandals around 2G spectrum allocation, coal block allocation and the 2010 Commonwealth Games as some of the major corruption cases marring the UPA’s rule, the BJP named Robert Vadra, son-in-law of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, as being allegedly involved in irregularities in land deals.
It also cited a controversial deal between Antrix Corp. Ltd, the commercial wing of the Indian Space Research Organisation, and Bangalore-based Devas Multimedia Pvt. Ltd, under which Devas leased satellite transponders for multimedia broadcasting purposes.
“When we started discussing cases of corruption under the Congress-led UPA, we found it difficult to decide which scams to highlight in the chargesheet,” said Ravi Shankar Prasad, deputy leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, adding: “The Congress has changed the definition of corruption in the country.”
The BJP said the chargesheet included inputs that were based on 42,000 suggestions it had received online. “In our discussion with people, price rise, corruption and lack of development were the highlight points. These are the issues which concern the people most,” Prasad said.
BJP leaders blamed Sonia and Rahul Gandhi for devaluing the office of the prime minister, and accused Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of making compromises to remain in office. “In many instances of wrongdoing and corruption, it had the approval of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi,” Prasad added.
The senior BJP leader said corruption and mismanagement of the economy had led to a lack of job creation under the UPA, while the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance had generated 1.21 crore (12.1 million) jobs every year.
Prasad also claimed that 40% of the teaching posts were vacant in the Indian Institutes of Technology, 30% in central universities and 25% in the Indian Institutes of Management.
“Deemed universities mushroomed from 27 to 150, and most of them are in violation of rules and standards. The health sector has also suffered under the UPA as the finance minister decided to cut down the grant to the ministry of health and family welfare by 20.6%,” he said.
Political analysts said the chargesheet appeared to be the BJP’s answer to critics who argue that its campaign is too focused around its prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi.
“The allegation was that there is no party, but only one person. The chargesheet is an attempt to counter this perception, and also to return to issue-based politics for the election. The campaign around Modi is being supplemented by these issues,” said A.K. Verma, a Kanpur-based political analyst. “Corruption has become a major issue in this election after the Aam Aadmi Party’s victory in assembly elections.”

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