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Saturday, 29 September 2012

Reforms an ongoing process, asserts Prime Minister Singh

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Reforms an ongoing process, asserts Prime Minister Singh
Clean Media Correspondent

New Delhi, Sept 29 (CMC) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday stated the process of reforms was an ongoing one, adding the government would be able to handle the concerns of coalition partners over decisions such as those on diesel prices and the cap on subsidised liquified petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders.

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has strengthened its stand to stick to the reform path by highlighting the need to revive economic growth and reduce the subsidy burden. The Supreme Court’s recent statement that the government didn’t have to necessarily auction natural resources came as a shot in the arm for the UPA.

Singh’s new found assertiveness, evident in his recent televised address to the nation, was again on display on Saturday, as he adroitly fielded questions from reporters, a shift for a prime minister who had earlier wanted his “silence to speak for itself.”

On Saturday, on the sidelines of the swearing-in of the country’s new chief justice, Altamas Kabir, Singh said, “We will do what is good for the country....Reforms is not a one-off process.”

Singh’s new-found assertion stems from the robust backing of the Congress party and its president Sonia Gandhi, despite the Trinamool Congress withdrawing support to the government. At a recent UPA coordination committee meeting, when allies such as the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) demanded steps such as increasing the cap on LPG cylinders from six to 12 be reconsidered, an adamant government refused to yield.

On the concerns of alliance partners, Singh said these would be discussed.

DMK representative T R Baalu and NCP chief Sharad Pawar had told the Congress-led UPA government such decisions might affect electoral prospects. Pawar had also spoken of the “vast impact” such unpopular decisions could have. Responding to these statements, Singh on Saturday said, “We are far away from elections.”

On Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee’s recent attack on him, he said, “I am not bitter about anything.” However, the Bengal unit of the Congress is considering filing a defamation case against Banerjee for mimicking the Singh at a press conference.

Yesterday, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had said the decision to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail was “aimed at pleasing the US.” Modi also alluded to Sonia Gandhi’s visits to the US as being linked to the UPA’s decision on FDI.

Responding to this, Singh said, “What has the US got to do with this? We are not a country to be dictated by others.” Ever since Singh had backed the nuclear treaty with the US in the face of stiff opposition from many quarters, many have accused him of acting at the behest of the US.

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