Prime Minister Manmohan Singh thinks India’s global standing will diminish and its image as a liberal, secular democracy take a beating if Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, whom the BJP has projected as next-in-line to LK Advani, ever becomes Prime Minister.
<b1>"The image of India took a beating when the BJP tried to impose a monolithic view on the entire country. If people with extremist and bigoted views come to power, India’s image as a great, liberal, plural and secular democracy will be hurt,” he told Hindustan Times in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.
Singh said the international community respected India for its composite culture: "We remain a beacon of pluralism and secularism at a time when so many countries are troubled by ethnic strife and communal intolerance."
Commenting on issues ranging from the economy, mistreatment of Sikhs in Pakistan and the Nepal crisis, Singh said the Congress needed to be voted back because the country needed a government that "understands how our economy functions and how the global economy functions, and is capable of taking bold decisions."
He sought renewed mandate on the strength of his track record since the ’70s when Indira Gandhi sought his advice in the wake of the 1973 oil-shock and later the 1990-91 economic crisis, when India had to mortgage gold. "India was one country that was saved from the hyper-inflation of 1970s …When I took charge in June 1991 (as Finance Minister), we said we’ll turn the economy around in one year. We did that,” he said.
Singh said he had succeeded in preventing the full impact of the crisis haunting the global economy from being felt in India. But what about job losses, cuts in wages and closure of enterprises? To that, he replied: “We are doing much better than most countries. I have faith in the wisdom of ordinary people who know which party’s policies are good for them. Everyone knows we’ll overcome today’s problems and look to a better tomorrow.”
On Nepal, the Prime Minister recalled his then Nepalese counterpart Pushpa Kamal Dahal, aka Prachanda’s appreciation last year of Indian support for the peaceful democratic transition in his country. “We’ve consistently emphasised to all parties in Nepal the importance of political consensus in dealing with sensitive national issues...,” he said in response to the Maoists’ charge of New Delhi’s interference in Prachanda’s face-off with Army Chief Rookmangud Katawal.