Dismissing Opposition claims that he is constrained by Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said the Congress chief has carried the "heavy burden" of looking after the party enabling him to concentrate on managing the government.
"I am not constrained by the fact that the Congress party's management is looked after by Mrs (Sonia) Gandhi," he told Financial Times when asked to comment on BJP claims that he was constrained by Gandhi.
Singh said that this allowed him to concentrate on managing the "world of the government."
"It is a distinct advantage the fact that the Congress president has carried this heavy burden of managing the party and bringing various political parties together in the United Progressive Alliance is a positive element. It's not a constraint on me," he told in an interview.
Asked what was his government's top achievement in the last five years, Singh said the "UPA had been able to increase the trajectory of India's economic growth rate to a new high of close to 9.0 per cent while at the same time ensuring that our growth process is more socially and regionally inclusive."
"Inclusive Growth has been our watchword and that is what we are delivering. We have increased the income of our farming community by ensuring they get better prices," he said.
The Prime Minister said the Government has increased employment in urban and rural areas, and created the first ever rural employment guarantee programme in the world.
"This is a safety net that will smoothen the harsh edges of extreme poverty across the country. There has been unprecedented capacity expansion in education," he said.
Singh pointed out that the government had taken important initiatives in the area of foreign policy, including the Indo-US nuclear deal that ended India's nuclear apartheid.
"I think overall we have much to show both at home and abroad to say that India is a better place and a better nation today than five years ago," he said and added that "a lot was still to be done to remove poverty, ignorance and disease."
Stating that caste politics was an unfortunate fact of life in India, Singh said that the only way to overcome this was to show that non-caste parties delivered substantial results for those who belong to disadvantaged castes.