India needs dependable face as leader: Uddhav Thackeray

New Delhi, July 19 (IANS) Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray Friday said the country needed a strong government and a "dependable face" as its leader but refused to specify the name of the BJP leader his party found acceptable as the prime ministerial candidate.

Addressing the 92nd annual general meeting of Assocham here, Thackeray claimed that people were not sure who was the leader of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

The function was also addressed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Rajnath Singh who said that "confidence and conviction" to steer the country forward was not visible in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Thackeray said he had come to Delhi after quite some time and was sure that the next government will be of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

He claimed that people did not know who was running the present government, asking: "Do you recall a face who is the leader?"

Stressing the need to bring a strong government, he said that there is "need of a dependable face".

Asked later to elaborate, Thackeray only said that "there were many dependable leaders".

He refused to specify if he was referring to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who has been appointed BJP campaign committee chief for the next Lok Sabha polls.

Shiv Sena, in the past, has backed BJP leader Sushma Swaraj as the prime ministerial candidate of NDA.

However, Thackeray earlier this week defended Modi's comments about being a Hindu nationalist and said that the decision of the Janata Dal-United to leave NDA was wrong.

In his speech, Thackeray said UPA government was running as a "pre-paid card".

"First pay money and then talk and when you dial, the reply often is that number is outside the network," Thackeray said.

"When our government comes, we will stop the pre-paid system. We will bring everyone in the network," he said.

Describing himself as an artist, the Shiv Sena chief said his father Bal Thackeray "had taught me to promise only that which I can fulfil".

He said the economy was booming during NDA rule and foreigners wanted to invest in the country, but today the situation had worsened.

"What is the image today. Who has destroyed the image," he said.

Terming globalization as economic world war, Thackeray said the world was seeing India as a market.

He said "Made in China" goods were flooding Indian market. "Where is 'Made in India'? Why not keep our market with us (Indian industry)," he said.

Thackeray also hit out at the UPA government over the tensions between the Intelligence Bureau and Central Bureau of Investigation in the Ishrat Jahan case.

"Is it a crime to kill terrorists," he said.

Rajnath Singh said India should have been "a super economic power" in the sixty years of its rule but it is not even in the queue of developed countries.

"The faith that NDA government generated among people is shattered. India does not lack potential," he said.

Attacking Manmohan Singh, he said the "prime minister should have confidence and conviction".

"It is not visible. I am seeing this from the time he (Manmohan Singh) was made prime minister," he said.

He said that the country did not necessarily need "an economist prime minister" but "a realist prime minister", terming former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as an example.


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