Ready to be under lokpal ambit: PM

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today met five editors of regional newspapers for two hours and talked about various issues ranging from lokpal, cabinet reshuffle to Rahul Gandhi. What's lokpal? | Steal the lokpal show | I am not weak: PM | Podcast: Why PM's statement matters
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Updated on Jun 29, 2011 09:11 PM IST
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Agencies | By, New Delhi

Manmohan Singh was ready to be under the ambit of the lokpal but a final decision on the issue would be taken by his cabinet colleagues, said one of the editors who attended a media interaction with the Prime Minister on Wednesday.

"I am ready to be under Lokpal ambit. But my cabinet colleagues would take the final decision," the Prime Minister was quoted as saying by Alok Mehta, editor of Nai Duniya.

Mehta was speaking to reporters outside the Prime Minister's 7, Race Course Road residence.

The Prime Minister, who met five editors for two hours, talked about various subjects.

The Prime Minister also said that he had taken the "first initiative" to approach civil society activist Anna Hazare and yoga guru Baba Ramdev.

Civil rights activists, led by Hazare, want to bring Prime Minister under the ambit of lokpal (ombudsman).

Singh, during his interaction with the editors, dismissed suggestions that he was a lame duck prime minister. He said a government reshuffle was in the works, but gave no further details. Singh also said he expected inflation, the highest of a major Asian economy, was expected to moderate by March next year.

Manmohan Singh Wednesday rejected suggestions that he is a lameduck prime minister, according to one of the editors who attended a media interaction at the prime minister's residence.

The prime minister described such talk as "clever propoganda by the opposition", Kumar Ketkar, editor of Divya Marathi told reporters here after the 100-minute interaction.

'Don't mind young leadership, but party to decide'

The Prime Minister Manmohan said he doesn't "mind young leadership" taking charge, but the party and the government has to decide when Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi will take charge at the helm.

"I don't mind young leadership. But it is not my decision. It has not come on the party agenda or on the agenda of the government," Kumar Ketkar, editor of Divya Marathi, quoted the prime minister as saying during a media interaction here.

The response came on recent statements made by Congress leaders on Rahul Gandhi being ready to take over as the next prime minister.

'Nothing was found in Pranab bugging incident'

The Prime Minister said the Intelligence Bureau (IB) had given a clean chit in the alleged bugging of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's office.

"He told us that the Prime Minister's Office had directed the Intelligence Bureau to do an inquiry into the issue," Kumar Ketkar, editor of Divya Marathi, quoted Manmohan Singh as saying during a media interaction.

"The IB report said that there was nothing," Ketkar told reporters outside the prime minister's residence.

'Ramdev crackdown unfortunate, but had no choice'

Stating that the police crackdown on yoga guru Baba Ramdev was unfortunate, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, "we had no choice as we were afraid that next morning there could be problems as we had got reports that communal elements had infiltrated Ramdev Baba's camp'," Kumar Ketkar, editor of the Divya Marathi told reporters outside the Prime Minister's House 7, Race Course Road.

'Cabinet reshuffle soon'

A cabinet reshuffle would take place soon, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said but did not give a date. "I cannot give you a date. But it will take place soon," the prime minister was quoted as saying.

"I have got maximum cooperation from Sonia Gandhi who has done a superb job as the Congress president," Ketkar quoted Manmohan Singh as saying.

The Prime Minister was critical of the media and said that it has become an "accuser, prosecutor and judge".

The meeting with select editors is part of the Prime Minister's new media outreach strategy.

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