The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Party stands up for ‘patriot’ PM
India’s prestige at stake: Congress

New Delhi, Oct. 23: The Congress today defended the Prime Minister a day after he reportedly expressed “anguish” at the way some UPA partners had joined the Left in criticising the nuclear deal.

It was Manmohan Singh’s patriotism and not his sense of personal prestige that prompted his stand, the Congress said, adding that the party’s as well as the country’s “credibility and integrity” were at stake.

“Can any country that has signed a treaty of this nature with another country go back and say we have to consult this party and that party' As a patriot, the Prime Minister is bound to be emotional and sensitive and I think (CPM chief Prakash) Karat should do the same,” said Congress general secretary M. Veerappa Moily, head of the party’s media cell.

“I know what’s going on in the Prime Minister’s mind. It is not a simple, trivial matter. He is leading the world’s largest democracy.”

The Prime Minister reiterated his views on coalition politics while speaking at a McKinsey meeting here this evening.

“I don’t think there is any lack of thinking on what needs to be done to sustain and further accelerate growth. There is also fairly wide recognition of the importance of this agenda,” he said.

“However, given the nature of competitive politics and the very fractured mandates given to governments, it has become difficult sometimes for us to do what is manifestly obvious.”

The Congress challenged the perception that pressing the pause button on the nuclear deal had reduced the government to a “lame duck”. The deal has been signed and “only” needs to be operationalised, the party stressed.

The unqualified backing for the Prime Minister comes amid reports that he is fed up with running a coalition on terms set by the Left and UPA allies but is continuing in office from a sense of responsibility towards the Congress and Sonia Gandhi. Singh apparently does not want to “ditch” the party and its president mid-course.

Congress sources who claimed to have a “reasonably good assessment” of Sonia’s mind said she was not prepared to consider an alternative Prime Minister. If Singh quits, the government will go, a source said. “It is futile speculating on other names.”

As he defended the Prime Minister, Moily clarified that the party’s support for the deal and Singh did not mean it was ready to give up the government “any moment” and jump into an election.

“We do not want a mid-term poll. We have been mandated to complete our term and see that the spin-offs from our achievements percolate down to the common person,” he said.

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