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Manmohan admits time’s up, praises Rahul, attacks Modi

Attacking BJP’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi, he said his elevation as prime minister would be ‘disastrous for the country.’

In the over 75-minute-long press conference, his third as PM, held at the National Media Centre in Delhi, Singh continued his attack on Modi: ‘I sincerely think that Narendra Modi’s dream to become the country’s PM will not come true.’ He also said that he didn’t consider the massacre of people on the streets of Ahmedabad an incident that indicates the strength of a state’s chief minister.

‘In a few months time, after the general election, I will hand the baton over to a new prime minister,’ said Singh. He went on to say, ‘I will not be a candidate for prime ministership if the UPA comes back to power. I hope it will be a UPA-chosen prime minister, and our party will work to that end in the campaign for the general elections.’

Asked about Rahul Gandhi being nominated as the party’s PM’s candidate, Singh said, ‘Rahul Gandhi has outstanding credentials to be nominated as the (prime ministerial) candidate, and I hope our party will take that decision at the appropriate time.’ To another question, he said: ‘I have always felt that our government would have been strengthened if Rahul had been part of our government, but Rahul felt he had responsibilities to the party which did not permit him to join the government and I respect that.’ Regarding his alleged silence on a number of issues, he said, ‘I have spoken whenever its needed...be it party forum or elsewhere. And I will continue to speak as and when needed.’ When asked about the issue of corruption, he described it as a ‘monster’, insisting that dealing with it was no easy task. ‘Dealing with corruption is not an easy process. All parties must collectively grapple with it. Various political parties have to work together to deal with this monster. This is not a matter which only one party can accomplish,’ he said.

Defending the government, he said, ‘Corruption charges against government relate to UPA-I and people of the country have not heeded to those charges and given us a second term.’ He went on to say, ‘On corruption charges the opposition had vested interest and media, CAG and other entities played on it sometimes. It was in fact I who insisted on transparency in coal block allocation.’

About Indo-Pakistan relations and why he had not visited Pakistan since taking office in 2004, he said, ‘As the prime minister, I should go to Pakistan if conditions are appropriate to achieve solid results. Ultimately I felt that the circumstances were not appropriate (to visit Pakistan). I still have not given up the hope of going to Pakistan before (giving up office).’

Talking on Indo-US relations, he said: ‘There have been recently some hiccups but I sincerely believe that these are temporary aberrations, and diplomacy should be given a chance to
resolve the issues that have arisen.’
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