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Dr Singh's biggest regret and his take on IPL scandal

Last updated on: May 31, 2013 17:06 IST

'There are no permanent allies'

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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday said the biggest regret of his tenure as the leader of the United Progressive Alliance government has been the "obstructionist attitude" of the opposition.

He was responding to the queries of media personnel on board the PM's Special Aircraft after wrapping up the five-day visit of Japan and Thailand.

"The Opposition has become more impatient than ever before. They never expected that we would win the election for UPA-I. But they were doubly disappointed when we won the election for UPA-II. Therefore, the obstructionist role of the Opposition has increased enormously in recent years. It is my greatest regret that some very essential business of the House has not been transacted because of these animosities between the Opposition and the government," he said.

The prime minister's remarks assumes significance in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Dr Singh seems keen on taking on the Opposition which has constantly been demanding his resignation over scams that have tainted the reputation of his government.

Asked about some allies leaving the UPA during the course of its two tenures and the possibility of reaching out to the Left Front and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee for support in the future, Dr Singh said, "In politics, there are no permanent allies and no permanent enemies. These possibilities, some people coming in, some people going out, I think they have to be accepted as they are."

Read the transcript of the interview here

Reportage: Vipin Vijayan on board PM's Special Aircraft

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Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on board Air India One with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, Adviser to the PM TKA Nair and PM's Private Secretary Vikram Misri
Photographs: Vipin Vijayan/Rediff.com

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'No difference of opinion with Sonia'

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Rejecting reports about a rift between him and Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Dr Singh on Friday asserted that there was no truth in them as the two worked together almost on all issues.

"In all truthfulness, there is no difference of opinion between me and the Congress president," he told reporters on his way back from the five-day visit to Japan and Thailand.

"We work together on almost every issue and where consultations are needed, I consult the Congress president," he said.

He was responding to a question about the perception of a trust deficit and divergences between him and Gandhi.

"This perception that on certain issues there are differences of opinion, there is no truth in that," he said.

He was also asked whether Gandhi had nudged him against his wishes to get the resignation of Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and whether he faced a tough situation when Central Bureau of Investigation's Director Ranjit Sinha named a joint secretary in the Prime Minister's Office as having made changes in the agency's affidavit to the Supreme Court on Coalgate, but the prime minister did not spell out his response to this.

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Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Sonia Gandhi
Photographs: Courtesy: PIB

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'Indo-Pak relations must move forward'

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The prime minister also touched upon relations with Pakistan during his media interaction.

"The day the results were announced in Pakistan, I called up Nawaz Sharif and conveyed my congratulations. I reciprocated his sentiments that Indo-Pak relations must move forward. I invited him to visit India; he also invited me. However, no firm decision has been taken on when this trip will happen," Dr Singh said.

"We would certainly like to have good neighbourly relations with Pakistan. It has been consistently our policy that in India Pakistan relations, we should deal with all the outstanding issues. We are committed to resolving them in a peaceful manner. That is also the sentiment which was reciprocated by Nawaz Sharif," he added.

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Image: PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif


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'Hope politics, sports don't get mixed up'

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Asked about the ongoing IPL spot fixing controversy involving cricketers like S Sreesanth, Dr Singh said, "Though I cannot comment on an ongoing investigation, I sincerely hope that politics and sports don't get mixed up."

He was asked whether the time has come for the government to intervene as Board of Cricket Control in India chief N Srinivasan has refused to step down from the position in the wake of his son-in-law being dragged into the scandal, saying he had done no wrong.

On his economic outlook towards the country, the prime minister said, "The monetary policy of the country is decided by the Reserve Bank of India. And I respect that. In the coming month, you will see inflation coming under control and the economy growing as per expectations."

Asked about how he felt about being re-elected to Rajya Sabha, Dr Singh said, "It has been a great privilege to represent Assam since 1991. The people of Assam have given me the opportunity to serve them. I will do so with renewed dedication."

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Image: S Sreesanth


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'Large scale flow of trade is becoming a reality'

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On what his trip to Japan and Thailand has achieved, the prime minister said that India's Look East policy is paying rich dividends and the results are going to improve in the time to come.

"The Look East policy is not a new development. When Narasimha Rao was the prime minister and I was the finance minister under him in 1991, we charted out a course of action to get closer to South East Asian countries, particularly ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). Since then the process has been moving forward. ASEAN countries are our strategic partners and there are enormous opportunities of expanding trade ties, investment relations, expanding maritime cooperation, expanding the scope of trade and investment. Now we have reached a stage where large scale flow of trade and investment is becoming a reality," he said.

Dr Singh further said, "We have, for example, the dedicated freight corridor where Japan is helping us; we have Mumbai-Delhi industrial corridor where also Japanese help will be made available and also the Mumbai-Bangalore corridor, where there is agreed interest of east Asian countries, including Japan, Thailand and Malaysia. So I am hopeful that the Look East policy of India is paying rich dividends and the results are going to improve as we move forward."

With additional inputs from PTI

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Image: Dr Singh addresses the Japan India Association in Tokyo


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