Chennai, Apr 9 : Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Saturday rejected the opposition’s description of Manmohan Singh as “weak” and asserted that the prime minister was very alert and proactive.
Releasing the Congress party’s poll manifesto four days ahead of the assembly polls in Tamil Nadu, Mukherjee said: “The prime minister is alert, sensitive and bold, and takes appropriate actions.”
Refuting the suggestion that the massive nationwide support received by social activist Anna Hazare for his fast had anything to do with the scams - 2G spectrum allotment, Commonwealth Games and others - during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rule, Mukherjee said “the investigations are on and the law will take its own course”.
According to him, the Lokpal Bill was not made into a law for the past several decades due to the absence of political agreement on its provisions. He said several proposals have been made, like bringing the Prime Minister’s Office and the judiciary under the Lokpal Bill.
Mukherjee heads the joint committee set up Saturday to draft a strong Lokpal Bill in the wake of the fast undertaken by Hazare in New Delhi.
Giving a positive credit rating for Tamil Nadu government’s finances, Mukherjee sought the people’s mandate for one more term so that the state can attract more investments. The opposition AIADMK has been charging that Tamil Nadu has fallen into a debt trap with its borrowings running up to around Rs.100,000 crore due to its populist programmes.
He said the state has a strong finance basis compared to many other states in the country, and it is one for the few states where fiscal discipline is satisfactory.
Mukherjee praised the state government for not taking an overdraft from the Reserve Bank of India reflecting its sound financial position.
He said the cash balance of Tamil Nadu on March 24 was Rs.13,537 crore, which “is good” with seven days to close the fiscal.
According to him, if the DMK-led front comes to power in Tamil Nadu, there will be better coordination and cooperation between the state and the centre.
He said the state’s allocation from the centre increased to Rs.83,437 crore as recommended by the 13th Finance Commission from Rs.36,688 crore recommended by the 12th Finance Commission.
He was non-committal when queried whether the Congress would ask for a share in the government if the DMK-led front is voted back to power.
“We will think about it at the time of crossing the bridge,” he said.
According to him, the issue will come up when the government is being formed and at that time it will be discussed and debated.
He said the immediate priority is to win majority seats in the April 13 elections.
Queried about Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK president M. Karunanidhi’s criticisms about the functioning of the Election Commission of India, Mukherjee said the Election Commission is an independent body to conduct elections and he cannot comment on its functioning.
The Congress is contesting 63 seats as part of the DMK-led front for the 234-member house.