New Delhi: Opposition on Thursday hit out at the Prime Minister over his address to the nation saying he was "misleading" the country on FDI in multi-brand retail and appeared to be advocating interests of other countries while trying to "defend the indefensible".

The ruling Congress, however, stoutly backed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying that he has explained in detail why the government had to take the tough measures and it should be appreciated by all parties.

"In his speech, the Prime Minister tried to mislead the country. He appeared advocating the interests of foreign countries and not the Indians he leads," BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.

JD-U spokesperson Shivanand Tiwari alleged that the Prime Minister was trying to "spread confusion" in the country on the issue of economic reforms.

"Everybody knows that a major share of petrol and diesel is imported. But what steps has the government taken to bring down the consumption. He is accusing the Opposition of creating confusion on the issue but, in fact, Singh himself is doing so," Tiwari said.

Noting that a number of multi-national companies are already in retail, he asked as to "what work they have done so far to develop infrastructure in the country."

"To say that their arrival will improve the condition of farmers is absurd. This policy will create new set of middlemen," Tiwari said.

Left parties described the Prime Minister's rare televised address to the nation on the recent measures taken by the government as an attempt to "defend the indefensible" and questioned how can it take such decisions when it does not enjoy "overwhelming" majority in Parliament.

"The Prime Minister has sought to defend the indefensible steps taken by the government. The Prime Minister has not answered how he could proceed with these measures when it does not have the support of the overwhelming majority in Parliament," CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat said.

On FDI in retail issue, Karat contended that it was well known that the entry of Walmart and other MNC chains will displace small shopkeepers and traders.

"Instead of regulating the existing organised retail trade, government wants to set up monopoly chains controlled by foreign companies," he said.

"Contrary to what he (PM) has said, the bulk of diesel is used by farmers irrigating their land and by trucks for transporting goods. This price increase will harm farmers and stoke inflation and high prices," Karat said.

CPI National Secretary D Raja described the address as a "very very desperate" bid by the Prime Minister to reach out to people.

He claimed Singh "miserably failed" to answer any questions raised by common man and parties.

Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi, however, dismissed the criticism.

"The Prime Minister has explained each and everything as to why under the present circumstances, tough steps taken by the government were necessary. This should be appreciated by other parties," he said.


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