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“I won't quit, will speak to Rahul”

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Prime Minister points out that ordinance was discussed by Cabinet and Congress core group

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh talks to the media on board his aircraft while returning home from the U.S. on Tuesday.–Photo: PTI
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh talks to the media on board his aircraft while returning home from the U.S. on Tuesday.–Photo: PTI

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday ruled out his resignation in the wake of Rahul Gandhi’s attack on his government on the issue of the ordinance to protect convicted lawmakers.

“There is no question of resigning,” Mr. Singh told reporters, asserting that he does not get “upset easily.”

Several observers and Opposition leaders have said that Rahul Gandhi’s description of the ordinance as “complete nonsense” that should be “torn up and thrown away” amounted to an insult of the Prime Minister and undermined his authority, especially when he was on a foreign visit.

Dr. Singh said he would try to find out why Rahul Gandhi made a public statement and “why it had to be that way.” “I am not the master of what people say. It has happened and as I said when I go back I will try to find out why it happened that way and how do we handle it,” he said.

Speaking to journalists on the way back home from Frankfurt, the Prime Minister said he would discuss the issue with Mr. Gandhi and “it is always possible to change one’s mind.”

He referred to his earlier statement and noted: “I said I will put up all these issues before my Cabinet colleagues. These are all matters which were discussed before the highest body, the core group of the Congress. The Cabinet discussed this matter twice, not once.”

Answering questions on the controversy, he said he takes everything in his stride and “I don’t get upset easily, even when you ask.” Dr. Singh said: “He has written to me on this subject also and let me say that when issues are raised in a democracy, in a democratic polity, the right course is to start with and try to understand what is agitating the mind of the concerned people.”

“When I go back, I will discuss these matters with Rahul Gandhi. He has asked for a meeting with me and I will also take my Cabinet colleagues into confidence,” he added.

Dr. Singh was asked whether one individual, no matter how senior he might be in the party, should have the space to undermine the decisions taken by the Cabinet and the Congress Core Group and whether his authority was undermined. “No, I don’t feel that way. I honestly feel that if there is an important point of view, any member of the Congress, any member of my Cabinet is free to raise issues and seek reconsideration of issues,” he replied.

Dr. Singh said his government may have made “some mistakes” during the last nine years of its rule but has done “a lot of good things” which he hoped the “generous” people will take into account while voting. “I sincerely hope all secular forces will combine to face the onslaught of people like Narendra Modi. You will see that will happen when people realise what they are in for.” — PTI

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