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Not a lameduck or a puppet PM: Manmohan
Published on 30 Jun. 2011 12:31 AM IST
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Under fire for his silence, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Editors as part of his new media outreach strategy on Wednesday and showed he's the boss. Dismissing talk that he is a "lameduck" Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh said he has been entrusted with the job by the Congress party from which he has not heard "any contrary view".
Terming the perception that his government had gone "comatose" and was "lameduck" as clever propaganda of the Opposition "to which some sections of the media had lent ear", Singh asserted that "truth will prevail" and his performance will speak. Singh spoke of "maximum possible cooperation" that he was getting from Congress president Sonia Gandhi whom he met one-on-one every week. He had never felt that she was an "obstacle".
Manmohan was critical of the media and said that it has become an "accuser, prosecutor and judge". This way, Manmohan Singh said, no parliamentary democracy could work.
'Ready to come under Lokpal ambit'
About Lokpal Bill, he said it was essential and desirable. The country needed a strong Lokpal although it is not a "panacea".
He told the editors that he would try to find a way on the Lokpal issue and work for a national consensus. The government would reach out to the civil society but no group can insist that their views "A to Z" are the last word. As for bringing the office of the Prime Minister under the purview of the Lokpal, Singh said that he has no hesitation in bringing himself under it.
However, many of his Cabinet colleagues were of the view that bringing the institution of the Prime Minister under Lokpal would create "an element of instability which can go out of hand". "I have no hesitation in bringing myself under the purview of Lokpal but many of my Cabinet colleagues feel that bringing the institution of Prime Minister under it will create instability," he said.
'Cabinet reshuffle is on'
Manmohan confirmed that the Cabinet reshuffle is "work in progress" but refused to disclose when it will take place. On the question of Rahul Gandhi for the top job, he said he is open to young leadership taking over. "Cabinet reshuffle is now on, will bring in new faces," he said. Asked if it could take place soon, Singh replied, "I cannot predict."
Coalition pulls do exist
Told about doubts being raised about the stability of his government, particularly in the light of problems with DMK, the Manmohan said, "We have some points of tension but nobody wants an election."
On dialogue with civil society, he said that the government should appear to be receptive to what the society says and he had himself encouraged a dialogue with Anna Hazare. With regard to Ramdev also, the effort was not to create unnecessary misunderstanding, he said, adding that he had earlier written to the yoga guru to share some of his concerns on black money and corruption.
Responding to a question about police action against Ramdev and his followers at Delhi's Ramlila ground in the middle of the night, Singh said it was unfortunate but he did not see any alternative.
If action had been taken the next day there would have been larger crowds, he said.
Asked if Hazare was naive or politically motivated, the Prime Minister said it was not good to question the motives of those government is negotiating with.
The meeting with select editors is part of the Prime Minister's new media outreach strategy.
Wednesday's meeting will be followed by regular interactions with the media- both print and electronic. The PM's last press interaction with electronic media was four months ago.

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