Showing no signs of post-surgery fatigue, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said he was in good shape and would definitely campaign for the Congress for the Lok Sabha elections.
Singh, who is 76 and underwent a heart surgery in January, also came clean on differences within the UPA. He, however, was quick to add: “These tensions are inbuilt in the Indian polity. I am confident that people will vote for our performance.”
Despite top Congress leaders raising doubts about the credentials of the Third Front, the PM chose not to treat the challengers lightly. Speaking on the sidelines of a defence investiture ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan, he said: “Rivals are rivals and there is no use underestimating anyone. We have to recognise that there are opposition parties from the Left and right.” He said the UPA would tackle all challenges and emerge victorious.
On Varun Gandhi’s hate speech in Pilibhit, the PM said: “He (Varun) has said that he did not make those comments. But if it is correct, it is unfortunate.” He said that communalism and casteism were enemies of the nation and had to be fought collectively.
Striking an optimistic note, Singh expressed hope that the country would be out of the recession by the second half of 2009.
“But I am not an astrologer. We have to be prepared for the worst and at the same time ensure a revival of our economy,” said Singh, who will be attending the G20 Summit that begins in London on April 2.