A confident, calm and composed Manmohan Singh fielded a wide range of questions — from his relations with Congress president Sonia Gandhi to his “three regrets” after a stint of nine years — from the media contingent accompanying him on his way back from visits to Japan and Thailand but revealed precious little.
The Prime Minister had no complaints with the UPA allies, his Council of Ministers or the Congress rank and file. He implied that all his “three regrets” were about the Opposition.
“I think there has been a great sense of continuity between UPA-1 and UPA-2. But it is unfortunately a fact that the Opposition has become more impatient than ever before. They never expected that we would win the election for UPA-1.
“But they were doubly disappointed when we won the election for UPA-2. Therefore, the obstructionist role of the Opposition has increased enormously in recent years. And it is my great regret that some very essential business of the House has not been transacted because of these animosities between the Opposition and the government,” Dr. Singh noted.
Asked about the perceived differences between him and the Congress president on the resignation of Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, the Prime Minister said: “I can say in all truthfulness that there is no difference of opinion between me and the Congress president. We work together on almost every issue where consultation is needed, I consult the Congress president. And, therefore, this perception that on certain issues there were differences of opinion, there is no truth in that.”
Unlike the last two occasions when he had said he would neither rule himself in or outside for the job of the PM after the 2014 general election, Dr. Singh ducked a straight question on whether after his re-election as a Rajya Sabha member from Assam on Thursday he would accept the responsibility to steer the UPA ship for the third time.
Dr. Singh went on to talk on how grateful he was to the people of Assam for reposing faith continuously since 1991 and his desire to go on serving the people of the State.
“In politics, there are no permanent allies and no permanent enemies. These possibilities of some people coming in, some people going out, I think have to be accepted as they are,” was how he put it when asked about the possibility of him reaching to the Left or Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee.
About his plans to fill large number of vacancies in the Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister said the issue was being discussed.