Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the first time publicly admitted that he would have resigned had the Indo-US nuclear deal not gone through last year.
The confirmation by Singh himself about what has been speculated in political circles for a long time made it clear that it was on his insistence that Congress president Sonia Gandhi agreed to part ways with the Left parties.
“I was quite clear if the Indo-US nuclear deal had not gone through, I would have resigned,” Singh said in an interaction with women journalists on Friday.
The decision to go ahead with the deal in July last year had turned the Left parties into bitter foes of Singh’s government, which they had supported for more than four years.
The PM also said there was a serious threat to disturb the elections through militant incursions.
“There is no doubt that terrorists have not given up the evil design to destabilise our country to interfere with the poll process,” he said.
Commenting on a wide range of subjects, Singh slammed his main rival for the prime minister’s post, BJP leader L.K. Advani.
Responding to Advani’s repeated charge that he was a weak PM, Singh said: “I am not used to abusive language. That is the culture inherited from parents, from teachers and the concept of what Indianness is. He just watched when the Babri Masjid was demolished… officially 1,180 people were killed in the Gujarat carnage. How can Advani justify that and brand Narendra Modi as the most successful chief minister?”
Asked about the BJP leader’s challenge for a televised debate with him, Singh said, “I do not wish to debate with him, since I do not want to accord him the privilege of being an alternative prime minister,” he said.
Singh admitted that he could not match Advani in public speaking, but said he was good at taking quick decisions. “The proof of the pudding is in eating,” he said. “We need a prime minister who is strong. Who can take decisions. Speaking loudly doesn’t make you a strong PM.”
On the CBI’s clean chit to Congress leader Jagdish Tytler, he said, “I was not informed, not consulted. The Congress decision to cancel tickets to Tytler and (Sajjan) Kumar shows the party’s sensitivity to Sikh sentiments.”