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I'm not such a big culprit as is projected: PM

Last updated on: February 16, 2011 14:05 IST

I'm not such a big culprit as is projected: PM

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday broke his silence on the scams that have tarnished the image of the United Progressive Alliance government.

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Addressing editors of prominent television news channels in New Delhi, the Prime Minister said: "I have never said that I have never committed any mistake, but I am not such a big culprit as is being projected. I wish to assure the country as a whole our government is dead serious to bring to book all the wrongdoers regardless of their position in 2G spectrum, CWG, ISRO and Adarsh scams."

Expressing his disappointment over the manner in which the Opposition derailed the Winter session of Parliament over their demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the 2G scam, Dr Singh said: "Parliament has not been allowed to function for reasons I am not able to understand, we are making honest efforts to see the next session will be an orderly session."

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Image: Video grab shows Prime Minister Manmohan Singh interacting with TV Editors at his residence

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'The government deserves credit for tackling terror'

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The internal security situation is better and the country is better prepared to tackle the challenges posed by terrorism, Dr Singh said, adding that the government deserved some credit for this.

Referring to the country's internal security, he said it was a worry but the government was committed to bring every culprit to book. "We are prepared to deal with terror and many potential terror acts," he said.

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Welcoming the talks with the leaders of the United Liberation Front of Asom, the Prime Minister said: "In the north-east, things are getting normalised. Talks have begun with the ULFA and they will have far reaching consequences for the region."

On Jammu and Kashmir, Dr. Singh said: "The situation is now under control and people there can look forward to orderly development of processes. This will bring hope to youth there as development will bring employment opportunities."



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'Raja said he was transparent in his dealings'

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Responding to a query on A Raja by Arun Purie, Editor of TV Today, the Prime Minister said: "In allocation of 2G spectrum, the issue of licences were never brought to me or the Cabinet. I had told Raja to ensure issues are dealt with fairly, equitably, in a transparent manner. Told him to have an auction of Spectrum. Raja said he was transparent in his dealings."

"Raja said auctions are not the way forward for the 2G spectrum. He was clear that he should stay with existing approach. Pricing and location of spectrum was to be settled between ministry of finance and telecom department. If the MoF and telecom ministry agreed, I decided not to intervene and did not feel in a position to insist auctions should exist," he added.

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'I cannot divulge why Raja was inducted into cabinet'

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On why he decided to re-induct Raja into the Cabinet, he said: "I cannot divulge why Raja was inducted into cabinet. In a coalition government you can suggest preferences, but you have to go by what the leader of that coalition partner suggests."

"I had no reason to feel that anything seriously wrong had been done or that I had the authority to object to Raja's induction. Complaints were coming from all sides -- from companies, which had not benefited. I was not in a position to make up my mind if anything was seriously wrong."

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'I am not afraid of appearing before any Committee'

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Responding to a query by CNN-IBN Editor Rajdeep Sardesi on whether he was ready to call for a JPC probe into the 2G spectrum scam, the Prime Minister said: "I am not afraid of appearing before any Committee, including JPC, I will be quite happy to appear before any committee. I never felt like resigning, I have a job to do. I never thought of giving up half-way."

Lauding media's role, Dr Singh told editors: "Media had played a very important role in drawing the country's attention to issues requiring corrective action. The media have drawn the country's attention to some aberrations in allocation of 2G spectrum, the Commonwealth Games and more recently some developments in the space organisation and Adarsh society affairs."

He added that the government was committed to rule of law, saying, "We should not do anything to shake the self confidence of the people."

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Dr Singh's biggest regret in UPA-II

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To a question what was his biggest regret in UPA-II, Dr Singh said that "these irregularities have happened. They should not have happened. I am not very happy about these developments".

He virtually disagreed with the CAG calculations on the loss figure in the 2G scam, saying the CAG itself had called it presumptive.

There are various methods of computing the figures, he said, going on to question whether the Rs 80,000 crore being spent on foodgrain subsidy, Rs 60,000 crore on fertilisers and subsidy on kerosene could be called as loss.

He was replying to a question whether he agreed with Telecom minister Kapil Sibal's description of zero loss in the 2G scam.



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'I would like a cohesive party to support the government'

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To a question on Home Minister P Chidambaram's comments on governance deficit, he admitted, "obviously, some events have brought out the weaknesses in governance and processes, I think we need to improve the quality of governance. But that does not divide me and other members of the government."

He rejected a questioner's suggestion that his government was facing double-incumbency of attacks from the opposition and within the party.

"I do not get that impression (party not backing him). In a democracy, there are views and discussions and when decisions are taken, our party stands united in support of the government.

"I would like a cohesive party to support the government but I am not saying it is not happening," he said.

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Post Budget session, expect a cabinet reshuffle

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Dr Singh made it clear that he would go for a 'restructuring' of his Cabinet soon after the Budget session of Parliament.

"I have said that after the Budget session of Parliament is over, there will be a restructuring, reshuffle of the Cabinet and I hope I will get back to that task once the Budget Session is over," he told editors of the electronic media in New Delhi.

He was asked whether he would 'at all' go for a major reshuffle.

After the first reshuffle of his ministry on January 19, the Prime Minister had said that he would go for a "more expansive" exercise after the Budget Session, which concludes on April 21.

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