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Elections next year as scheduled, says PM

Sandeep Dikshit
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‘Coalition compulsions will not derail reforms’

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a press conference on board his flight during the return journey from the BRICS Summit in Durban on Thursday. At right is National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon.— PHOTO: PTI
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a press conference on board his flight during the return journey from the BRICS Summit in Durban on Thursday. At right is National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon.— PHOTO: PTI

Despite the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) becoming the latest ally to pull out of the ruling coalition at the Centre, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is confident that the general elections will be held as scheduled towards the middle of next year.

But the Prime Minister dismissed as hypothetical a question from mediapersons accompanying him back from the Fifth BRICS Summit in Durban on whether he would accept a third term if the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was in a position to form the government after the elections. “We will cross that bridge when we reach there,” he replied.

Answering questions on the mercurial behaviour of the Congress’ allies in the UPA — the pull out by DMK, the uncertain nature of support from Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati, besides the off and on support by Mamata Banerjee — the Prime Minister did not share the view that the Congress leadership had lost the ability to keep the allies together for good.

Dr. Singh admitted coalitions face turbulence, sometimes giving the impression that these are not very stable arrangements. But he expected the Government to pull through its full five year term.

The perceived vulnerability of the government, he assured, will not derail the reforms process he had re-started about a year back.

“Alliances do have compulsions which have to be taken into account. We will not allow these compulsions to derail the reforms process or to create a situation where the essential task of governing the country can be put aside,” he observed.

Speaking further on reforms, Dr. Singh said the changes being attempted in the country’s economic architecture would have to factor in the fact that the government did not have the numbers to approve some of the proposals.

“... we are certainly dependent on the goodwill of our allies and I would be the last to deny that there are uncertainties,” Dr. Singh said. Still, he was sanguine about pushing through reforms.

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