New Delhi: Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D Raja on Saturday said Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has miserably failed in his desperate attempt to reach out to the people of the country, justifying the economic reforms.
Asserting that the Prime Minister has not said anything new in his address to the nation, Raja said: "It was desperate attempt by the Prime Minister to reach out to the people, but he has miserably failed. Even all ministers in the Cabinet are talking the same thing. There was no substantial reply to the serious questions raised by political parties and the people."
Raja said there is anger in the country against the recent decisions of the government.
"There is widespread protest against all these decisions because people think that they (the decisions) are all anti-people and not in the interest of the country. The Prime Minister on one-hand claims his government is the government of `aam admi`, but what the does is against the `aam admi`," he added.
The CPI leader also pointed out that the Prime Minister could not justify the hike in the price of diesel.
"Compares India with Pakistan and Bangladesh, if you have compared India with some other country we could have understood. Comparing India with Pakistan and Bangladesh and justifying the decision to hike the diesel price is unconvincing and the Prime Minister has no answers to the questions raised by the political parties," said Raja.
"Even on FDI in retail, the Prime Minister says it will help the farmers. It will affect adversely affect the farming community, particularly the small and marginal farmers," he added.
Asserting that no government likes to impose burdens on the common man, the Prime Minister earlier on Friday said the UPA Government has been voted to office twice to protect the interests of the `aam admi`.
"At the same time, it is the responsibility of the government to defend the national interest, and protect the long term future of our people. This means that we must ensure that the economy grows rapidly, and that this generates enough productive jobs for the youth of our country," said Dr Singh.
"Rapid growth is also necessary to raise the revenues we need to finance our programmes in education, health care, housing and rural employment," he added.
Dr Singh said the price of diesel was raised by just Rs 5 per litre instead of the Rs 17 that was needed to cut all losses on diesel.
"Much of diesel is used by big cars and SUVs owned by the rich and by factories and businesses. Should government run large fiscal deficits to subsidise them? We reduced taxes on petrol by Rs 5 per litre to prevent a rise in petrol prices. We did this so that the crores of middle class people who drive scooters and motorcycles are not hit further," said Dr Singh.
"On LPG, we put a cap of six subsidised cylinders per year. Almost half of our people, who need our help the most, actually use only six cylinders or less. We have ensured they are not affected. Others will still get six subsidised cylinders, but they must pay a higher price for more. We did not touch the price of kerosene, which is consumed by the poor," he added.
The Prime Minister also defended the UPA Government`s move to allow foreign direct investment in retail, saying it would not hurt the small traders.
"Organised, modern retailing is already present in our country and is growing. All our major cities have large retail chains. Our national capital, Delhi, has many new shopping centres. But it has also seen a three-fold increase in small shops in recent years," said Dr Singh.
"In a growing economy, there is enough space for big and small to grow. The fear that small retailers will be wiped out is completely baseless," he added.
Asserting that the opening of organised retail to foreign investment will benefit the farmers, Dr Singh said: "According to the regulations we have introduced, those who bring FDI have to invest 50 percent of their money in building new warehouses, cold-storages, and modern transport systems."
"This will help to ensure that a third of our fruits and vegetables, which at present are wasted because of storage and transit losses, actually reach the consumer. Wastage will go down; prices paid to farmers will go up; and prices paid by consumers will go down," he added.
The Prime Minister also said the growth of organised retail would also create millions of good quality new jobs.