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Don't want early polls: Sonia
October 12, 2007 12:48 IST
Last Updated: October 12, 2007 14:16 IST
Congress President Sonia Gandhi [Images] on Friday clearly stated that she was against early elections and ruled out any confrontation with the Left Front over the India-United States nuclear agreement.
"No, we are not in favour of early elections. As the prime minister has said, the deadline is 2009. We are going to do all that we can to see that we implement our programmes till 2009," she said in an interaction with Vir Sanghvi at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit.
Gandhi said that the government will be working towards reaching a consensus with the Left on the nuclear deal. Asked if finalisation of the nuclear deal will work against the government, Gandhi said, "Well, let us see because we are still in the process of talking to them."
Gandhi said that the government was not looking for confrontation with the Left because it is not in the 'dharma' of coalition. "The dharma of a coalition is to work together, to try and understand and accommodate each other's view," said the United Progressive Alliance chairperson
Some reporters asked her what will happen if newspapers declared in their headlines on Saturday, "Congress backs out, no early election and no confrontation with the Left.' Gandhi shot back in a lighter vein, "Unless you write something like that, nobody will read your papers."
Gandhi denied that her speech in Jhajjar, Haryana on Sunday was an attack on the Left and maintained that she was referring to the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party in the state.
She also disagreed with the view that the Left's stand was unreasonable and it was acting as a 'stooge of China'. "No, I don't think they are being unreasonable. We have to understand the Left. They have certain ideologies, they have some views. They are merely stating their views. Naturally, we are working together. We have to understand their views and we have to take note of what they say," Gandhi said.
The Congress president added that after winning the elections in 2004, the UPA coalition had made certain commitments and it was only fair that it fulfilled them. "We must do all that we can to complete all these projects when we come to the end of the term," she said.
Gandhi also regretted the perception that the UPA government was a 'one issue' government obsessed with the Indo-US nuclear deal. "I regret it being perceived like this. It is not true. There are a number of issues on which we are focused."
Speaking about her controversial speech in Jhajjar, Gandhi said, "Everyone (in the hall) would want me to say that it was an attack on the Left. But it was not. I was talking about the opposition in Haryana."
"We are working in a coalition. If I want to speak about some point of disagreement with them, the last thing I will do is to go out and shout and scream and say I don't approve of it. I don't agree. Instead, I would call that person and tell him directly that I don't agree with you," she said, adding that a company having a collaboration with somebody would not hold a press conference to announce that they had differences with each other.
Gandhi said whenever she did not understand what an ally said, she would speak to the leader and explain her position, "because we are working together. This is how it should be."
Her remark, that she was misinterpreted because her Hindi was probably not up to the mark, was greeted with laughter from the audience.
Maintaining that she was satisfied with the working of the UPA government, Gandhi said, "I applaud the prime minister for the manner in which he has run the government and the coalition. The government has done a great deal of work, (but) one is never satisfied".
When asked if she was embarrassed by the government's economic measures, Gandhi said that she was proud of the economic progress made by the country, but also pointed out that large pockets of poverty remained in the country.
"So we cannot brag about our economic growth. We cannot forget that there are areas where people live in extreme poverty," the UPA chairperson said.
Responding to a query about her working relationship with the prime minister, Gandhi said, "Those who have doubts about the prime minister and I working together obviously do not know either him or me".
Maintaining that she and Singh had worked closely together for a long time and had an excellent working rapport, Gandhi said, "If he feels he has to bring something to my notice, he does it in all frankness and the same applies to me."
When newspersons asked her if she had ever considered any other leader for the position of prime minister, Gandhi stated emphatically, "No, never, absolutely not"
She also dismissed a suggestion that the issue of having a deputy prime minister had ever come up for consideration.