N-deal will not impede post-poll tie-up, PM hopes


Guwahati : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday hoped the India-US nuclear deal will not be a hurdle to a post-poll tie-up between his Congress and the Left parties.

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“Well… I hope that stage will not arise,” the prime minister told NDTV in an interview here, in reply to a question about his stance should the Left parties put a pre-condition of scrapping the nuclear deal to support a Congress-led government.

The Left parties opposed the India-US civil nuclear deal, and withdrew support to the Manmohan Singh government in July 2008.

Asked who – he or Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi – would be the next prime minister if the Congress returned to power, Manmohan Singh said: “You have heard the Congress president (Sonia Gandhi) and you’ve heard Rahul Gandhi… I think the answer is quite clear.”

He was referring to repeated comments from Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, declaring Manmohan Singh to be the prime ministerial candidate.

Asked if he regretted his tirade against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani, Manmohan Singh asserted: “No. I don’t regret anything because Mr. Advani has been mudslinging for the last 5 years against me. He has been saying I am a nikamma (useless) PM, subservient to Sonia Gandhi, that I am the weakest PM.”

He continued: “I did not reply to any of these things. But now that the Congress party has declared me the prime ministerial candidate, I owe it to the country to reply to this charge that I am the weakest PM, subservient to Mrs. Gandhi and that everything I do I has to be cleared with 10 Janpath.”

“These are charges which have hurt me but I have never said anything. Mr. Advani has no business to complain. He started it, he’s been at it for last five years and it’s only now that I have replied to that sort of mudslinging.”

The prime minister blamed the media when asked if the real issues like poverty, hunger and development had lost out in the war of words between political parties.

“Well, it’s the fault of the media. For example, in Mumbai where I went, in the written statement all the issues of development were highlighted.”

He added: “About Mr. Advani, it was only the last para but the media picked up only the last para, the juicy one… but not the development issues I raised and how the Congress party handled” them.