Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday brushed aside the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) demand for his resignation over grant of coal mining rights - an issue that has scuttled Parliament since last week - and accused the opposition party of diversionary tactics.
He also asserted that the BJP should wait for the next general elections, due in 2014, to test its strength, rather than seeking to remove him from office.
“If I were resigning, I won’t be here,” the Prime Minister told reporters on board his special aircraft on his way home from Tehran after attending the Non-Aligned Movement Summit and meetings with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad.
“The BJP is indulging in diversionary tactics. Tackling this all the time detracts from performing more fundamental tasks,” the Prime Minister said.
“I hope the opposition will see sense. I sincerely hope the BJP will respect the verdict of the people and let the government function. The people have elected this government for a five-year term. I hope BJP will respect the verdict and let the parliament function. If they would like to run it their way, that would be a negation of democracy,” Manmohan Singh said forcefully.
“The opposition should give us a chance to work in a manner in which the country’s basic problems can be solved."
According to the Prime Minister, there was “too much at stake. We all have obligation to make parliamentary democracy a great success in tackling the problems of the country”.
“Let us concentrate on the essentials and wait till the till the next elections to test strengths,” he said. “We can’t continue to make a mess of democracy."
Asked about his regrets in the area of governance, the Prime Minister said there were many.
“There are lots of things we would have liked to do. Certainly, lay the foundation for nine percent growth rate but international events have not helped; the lack of cohesion in domestic policy has not helped. There are differences in GST (goods and service tax). It is agreed it can lead to increase in GDP by one-two percent, streamline the tax system and minimse the scope for evasion…. but there are problems…” Manmohan Singh said, without elaborating.
'Better to stay silent'
The Prime Minister on Friday also said he did not want to get into a slanging match with political leaders and it was better for him to remain "silent".
"Can't get into slanging match with political leaders. It is better, as said I earlier, I keep silent," prime minister said on board after his four-day trip to Tehran.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been stalling parliament since last week, demanding that the prime minister resign over coal block allotments.