'Confrontation is not coalition dharma'
Congress President Sonia Gandhi said on Friday that she was "absolutely satisfied" with the working of the Manmohan Singh government and had no regrets over not becoming the prime minister three years ago.
"I am absolutely satisfied with Manmohan's government," Gandhi told the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit when asked to rate the performance of the Congress-led government that took office in May 2004.
Gandhi, who also heads the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), said she was happy to have made Manmohan Singh the prime minister and shared an "excellent rapport with him".
Gandhi also said the government would be working to bring about a consensus with the Left on the nuclear deal issue.
She added the government was not looking for confrontation with the Left because it is not in the 'dharma' of coalition. "The dharma of coalition is to work together, try and understand and accommodate each other's view."
The UPA chairperson said there was a reason why the government did not crow about the country's economic success.
"I would not say we are embarrassed by our economic success, in fact we are proud of it. But as long as we have huge pockets of poverty in the country, we can't be glad... Yes, we talk about it, but we cannot forget that there are huge islands where people are still very poor."
She brushed aside the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) 'India Shining' campaign of the 2004 elections. "That campaign was a completely surreal one," she said, generating laughter. "Because it did not exist. 'India Shining' did not exist. Only for a small group of people which really make no difference to the rest of the country."
The Manmohan Singh government's aim, she added, was to bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots.
To a suggestion that would she agree to if the newspapers were to come out with headlines tomorrow that 'Congress backs out, no early election and no confrontation with the Left', she shot back in lighter vein that "unless you write something like that, nobody will read your papers."