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Home > India > News > PTI

Sonia praises PM at UPA dinner

May 22, 2008 22:46 IST

United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi [Images] on Thursday heaped praise on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] and expressed confidence over the alliance getting a fresh mandate in the next elections, a statement that is seen as scotching any speculation on the leadership issue.

"The prime minister's nature is such that he wants that instead of him his deeds should speak. His style of functioning is such that it takes time to understand, but time tells how effective is his leadership," Sonia said  in her speech in Hindi at the fourth anniversary celebrations of the UPA coalition.

A galaxy of UPA leaders was present for the celebrations and later Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh as also Left leaders,  including Sitaram Yechuri and A B Bardhan, joined the dinner hosted by the prime minister at his Race Course Road residence.

Sonia also hailed the constituents of the ruling alliance, saying that they worked for the collective good and not their own interests and said they would work as a team to seek a renewed mandate from the people.

The prime minister told the nation that control of inflation has been a "priority concern"for his government as he said, "We must tighten our belts, manage our resources and finances more prudently, and work together to steer the ship of this great country through turbulent waters."

The presence of Amar Singh at the dinner was significant as it showed the warming up of ties between the Congress and SP with elections just a year away. However, Bahujan Samaj Party Members of Parliament who were also invited, were not present.

It was a show of unity by the UPA at the celebrations with top guns, including Lalu Prasad, Ramvilas Paswan, T R Baalu, Ramadoss, Mufti Mohd Sayeed and Sharad Pawar [Images].

Sonia's lavish praise of the prime minister has come at a time when the Bharatiya Janata Party has renewed its attack on Manmohan Singh, dubbing him a "lameduck Prime Minister" and daring the Congress to name him as its leader in the next polls.

Noting that time has proved how effective is the leadership of the prime minister, she said that Manmohan Singh had given a vision and direction to the government.

Congress general secretary, Rahul Gandhi [Images], who was projected by some leaders in the party as the prime ministerial candidate, was present at the function as also the top brass of the party.

"I compliment him on behalf of all of you for the achievements of the government and to take the country forward in social and economic spheres," Sonia said, adding that the final year of the UPA has started and "definitely the next year will be decisive".

Sonia said, "When we look back today, we are satisfied that most of the commitments we had made to the country have been fulfilled."

The prime minister did not refer to the Indo-US nuclear deal in his speech, which focussed on the determined efforts by his government to accelerate the pace of development while maintaining reasonable price stability.

With rising prices weighing heavily on his mind, Singh said, "An upward pressure on prices since 2007 has been wholly on account of the steep increase in global commodity prices, especially oil and food prices. It has also affected inflation expectations".

Singh said that reports of rabi crop output are good and the predictions of a good monsoon give him hope and confidence that the steps "we have taken so far will enable us to return to a regime of moderate inflation in eight to ten weeks time".

On the issue of internal security, the prime minister said that terrorists and other subversive elements have continued to cause concern.

"The UPA government has taken firm measures to improve the overall internal security situation and it will remain ever vigilant against any threats to the unity and integrity of our republic. We will not hesitate to take resolute and firm action against such forces wherever necessary and will work with states to counter these threats," Singh said.

Sonia stuck an optimistic note about the future, saying that the alliance realised the political and economic challenges ahead.

"I am confident that we together unitedly will be able to tackle the challenges," she said in an unmistakable signal that the UPA would face the next polls together.

The Congress president said the "report to the people' presented on the occasion was a factual account of the achievements of the government and there were "no claims and exaggerations".

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