Prime Minister Manmohan Singh left a window of opportunity open for a post-poll alliance with the Left parties on the issue of government formation, but refused to rework or annul the India-US civil nuclear agreement.
“There is no question of giving up the deal,” he said in an interview to CNN-IBN.
Singh also defended the decision to withdraw the Interpol Red Corner notice against Ottavio Quattrocchi, besides hinting at the possibility of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi taking over the reins of the government in near future. He also revealed that he and then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf had nearly agreed to a non-territorial solution to all problems.
The Prime Minister’s assertion to hold on to the nuclear deal comes in the backdrop of the Left parties making it clear that they would annul or rework it if they have any say in the next government.
Singh, however, indicated that he had no problems working with the Left per se.
“I have enjoyed working with the Left. I have nothing personal against the Left parties… But it would not be at the cost of giving up the nuclear deal,” he told the news channel.
“The nuclear deal was achieved after a lot of labour … I don’t think any serious minded patriotic party would oppose the nuclear deal,” he said.
Defending the government’s decision on Quattrocchi accused in the Bofors case, Singh said it’s not a good reflection on the Indian legal system that India harasses people while the world says we have no case.
“We have tried to extradite him from Malaysia, from Argentina and the courts have said we don’t have a strong case,” he said, pointing that the Attorney General had advised to lift the Interpol notice.
To a question if he would complete his second term as PM if the Congress was voted back to power, Singh said Rahul had “all the qualities” a good PM should have.
“I, at some stage, would like the seat of power should be in the hands of younger people than I am,” he said.
On his deal with Islamabad, the Prime Minister said the two sides were close to reaching an agreement but the whole process came to a halt due to internal developments in Pakistan.