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UPA will form government, NDA will split: PM

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asserted on Monday that all "possibilities" were open for alliances after the May 16 Lok Sabha election results.

india Updated: May 11, 2009 21:21 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asserted on Monday that all "possibilities" were open for alliances after the May 16 Lok Sabha election results.

Predicting a split in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) after the results, the prime minister said the Congress would "at worst" emerge as the single largest party in a splintered Lok Sabha.

"At worst the Congress will emerge as the single largest party," the prime minister told reporters here. He also ruled out backing the Left if it wanted to take power.

"I don't think the question is going to arise. I don't think the Left is going to get more seats than the Congress party," he added.

"All possibilities will be known after May 16. I would not like to speculate on this. Everything will depend on the numbers," he added.

Expressing confidence about the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government retaining power, the prime minister said: "The UPA government will be formed. I have no doubt about it."

Referring to possible post-poll alliances, he said: "Politics is the art of the possible. Those who got annoyed can be mollified."

Asked if he would appeal to the Left parties to support a Congress government at the centre, he said: "I always believed that all secular forces should come together and give a secular government to the country."

He said the India-US nuclear deal, over which the Left parties withdrew support to the UPA government last year, was "signed, sealed and operationalized" and no longer an issue.

"The wider purpose is that secular forces should give a secular government to this country," he added.

To another question, he said it would be desirable if the number of political parties in the country were fewer. But he hastened to add that he did not want to imply that he was against regional parties. "Regional parties are a reality."

Taking a dig at the unity show presented by the NDA partners here Sunday, he said a split in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA "is very much there" and would begin to show after the elections.

"It is wrong to say that the NDA has not split. The BJD (Biju Janata Dal) and TDP (Telugu Desam Party) are no longer there," the prime minister told the media after winding up his campaign for the fifth and final phase of polling to be held Wednesday.

He dismissed the Third Front as "already shaky".

On the issue of being a 'ready' prime minister from being a 'reluctant' one in 2004, Manmohan Singh said: "I have allowed my name to be forwarded and that means I will do my duty for the country.

"The Congress has declared who will be their prime ministerial candidate. There is no wavering in our commitment on the prime minister."

Asked about the possibilities in case there is a hung parliament, he said: "There is no provision for President's rule at the centre. There has to be a government at the centre."

Asked about the "weak PM" remark against him by the BJP's prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani, Manmohan Singh said: "Whether I am weak or strong should be judged by my performance. Advani should bother about these things also."

On terrorism, he said his government would deal with it firmly "but without targeting any particular community".

Being the first prime minister from the Sikh minority community, he said that he represented the entire country and did not think "in terms of Sikh or non-Sikh".

"I sincerely believe that religion should not be brought into political matters. I have not authorised anybody to use my name," he said.

Reacting to criticism of not doing anything to help Sikhs in Pakistan, he said his government had raised the issue of the status of Sikhs in the North West Frontier Province where Taliban had imposed Jaziya tax on non-Muslims.

On the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, he said the issue could not be kept alive for ever.

Getting candid about his thoughts on Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar despite the Congress trying to woo him, the prime minister said that Kumar "professes" be a secular leader but there are doubts about that after he shared a dais with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

First Published: May 11, 2009 21:20 IST