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Too early to decide Cong's PM candidate: Dr Singh
Renu Mittal on board the PM's Special Flight | October 01, 2008 09:19 IST
Last Updated: October 01, 2008 12:17 IST
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] was at his reticent best when asked whether he would be the Congress party's and the United Progressive Alliance's prime ministerial candidate in the Lok Sabha elections next year.
"It is too early to talk in terms of a potential prime ministerial candidate. The Congress party has several leaders who are equally qualified or better qualified than I am. I have not applied my mind to that sort of question," he told newsmen on board the Prime Minister's Special Flight while returning from his 10-day visit to United States and France [Images].
Speaking on the pressure on Home Minister Shivraj Patil [Images] to resign following the relentless terror strikes across the country, the prime minister said, "You don't expect me to discuss the issue of cabinet formation in a press conference. I think we are dealing with a difficult situation. It is not a question of one individual, it is a question of the system and we have problems. We need to improve our various mechanisms which are in place to counter terrorism."
Dr Singh, while being eloquent on issues of governance and economic matters, evaded giving direct replies to political questions.
When a journalist pointed out that after four-and-a-half years in power, Dr Singh had displayed a more assertive and commanding persona while pushing the nuclear deal, the prime minister was visibly taken aback.
"As finance minister, I was only a member of the team but now I am the captain of the team. It is a coalition government and therefore there are compulsions of managing a coalition, which often puts a constraint. The charge against the Congress is that it is not good at managing coalitions. I wanted to prove that statement wrong and I think we have nearly succeeded. We have given this country a purposeful government, which has the support and respect of all the constituents of our coalition," he said.
He once again made a pitch to bring his former Left partners back into the alliance fold. "I felt very sad when our Left colleagues parted company. I still have not given up hope about convincing them -- that the nuclear deal protects all the essential interests of our country, our strategic programme, it opens up new options for India to manage its energy situation and it is part of our policy which would widen our development options. So I sincerely believe that whether it is the Bharatiya Janata Party or the Left, if they look objectively, there is nothing in the nuclear deal which will hurt the interests of the country."
When pressed on the possibility of the Left parties rejoining the coalition after the Lok Sabha elections, Dr Singh remained non-committal.
"I am not an astrologer. I would like all friendly like-minded segments of the population to work together to resolve all major problems -- social, political, economic. India is on a verge of great opportunities and the real challenge to us is how we manage our domestic politics. I would like all political parties to pool their wisdom, knowledge and experience to deal collectively with all national problems -- that applies to the Left, that applies to the BJP -- that applies to everyone."
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