The possibility of Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party withdrawing support to his government does exist, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh acknowledged obliquely, even as he expressed confidence that UPA-2 would complete its full term.
Singh also said uncertainties arising out of coalition politics notwithstanding, his government would push ahead with reform measures in the coming months. “We will not allow reforms to be derailed,” he said Thursday.
He was interacting with journalists accompanying him back from Durban in South Africa, where he attended the two-day Brics (Brazil, Russia, India China and South Africa) summit.
Asked if he feared the SP pulling the plug on the government, given all the signs from Yadav recently, Singh said: “Coalitions raise issues that give the impression the government may not be stable. I cannot deny that such possibilities don’t exist. But I am confident our government will complete its full term and the next election will take place as scheduled in 2014.”
With the DMK’s exit, the UPA is entirely dependent on the SP and the BSP, which provide outside support with 22 and 21 Lok Sabha MPs, respectively. While the BSP is expected to favour a late elections, the SP is possibly weighing its options on how long to continue with the government.
On whether the increasing political vulnerability of his government has slowed down the reform measures he launched last year, Singh said: “We don’t have the majority and are certainly dependent on the goodwill of our allies. I can’t deny there are uncertainties.” However, he said “reforms that matter” and are expected to create good results in the next few months would not stop.
Asked if the UPA was being deserted by its allies one after another due to the inability of the Congress and his own leadership, he shot back, "Although we have compulsions, we will not allow them to derail reforms. We will not allow a situation where the essential task of governance of our country is compromised."
On one-time ally Mamata Banerjee's offer of support to the government on matters of foreign policy, Singh said all right-thinking individuals and parties must support the government's initiatives.
Curiously, Singh did not rule himself out of the race for a third term in office, in the wake of Rahul Gandhi's statement that becoming PM was not his priority. Asked if he would be game if the Congress leadership proposed his name, he evaded a direct reply. "That is a hypothetical question. We will cross the bridge when we reach there."
PM had in a recent speech in Parliament said the BJP's dream of coming to power in 2014 would not be fulfilled, adding: "There will be a UPA-3."
He refused to comment on the matter of the Italian marines facing trial for killing two Indian fishermen, only saying: "It will be presumptuous on my part to comment on judicial proceedings."