M A I N   N E W S

Indo-Pak friction must end: Manmohan
* No going back on reforms agenda 
Pledges peace and stability
Tribune News Service

Prime Minister-designate Dr Manmohan Singh being congratulated by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister
Prime Minister-designate Dr Manmohan Singh being congratulated by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Dr Y. S. Rajasekhar Reddy at Singh's residence in New Delhi on Thursday. — PTI photo

New Delhi, May 20
Caught in the swirl of consultations connected with the formation of his ministry, Prime Minister-designate Manmohan Singh called for peace and unity so that the Gujarat carnage and the 1984 November Sikh riots did not recur.

He favoured ending the Indo-Pak friction peacefully without compromising national interests. “We desire friendly relations with our neighbours, more so with Pakistan”, especially when the impossible like the meltdown of the Berlin Wall was being achieved in international politics.

Accusing the BJP-led NDA of allowing free play to divisive forces, Dr Manmohan Singh said maintaining communal harmony was of paramount importance for progress. At the same time, his coalition government would have an economic agenda with a human face.

He was categoric that the working class would not be displaced, further compounding the unemployment problem which gladdened the hearts of the Left parties. The new government is committed to building strong public-private partnerships. In furthering the reforms process, the focus would be on removing poverty, increasing employment, raising agricultural production and ensuring health for all.

Recognised as the architect of economic reforms, Dr Manmohan Singh made it clear there would be no going back on the reforms agenda.

On the Ayodhya and Jammu and Kashmir issues, Dr Manmohan Singh who addressed his first press conference here in the morning after being appointed Prime Minister by President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam last night, contended that the law of the land should prevail in the first case. He did not find anything wrong in serious negotiations among the contesting parties for arriving at what he described as a sensible solution with the sanction of the court. The dialogue process in J and K would be continued with all parties concerned.

Dr Manmohan Singh struck a note of concern and caution about Gujarat, side-stepping a question if the state would be brought under President’s rule on the ground that it was too serious a matter to be discussed with mediapersons.

He said they were anxious and worried about the functioning of the judicial system in Gujarat. “We will pay adequate attention to all these issues,” he observed in his measured and carefully calibrated responses.

Dr Manmohan Singh underlined that strengthening communal forces was one of the biggest challenges and a pre-requisite for the country’s progress. “The mandate is for uniting the people and provide a strong, purposeful and secular government. We want India free from war, want and exploitation,” he stressed.

Emphasising that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance would last its full term of five years, he disclosed that good programmes like the ambitious Golden Quadrilateral would not be scrapped but strengthened for critical connectivity in the vast hinterland.

Hailing Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s renunciation of the office of Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh said she would go down in the annals of history for sacrificing the top post.

He acknowledged that Congress President Sonia Gandhi would “remain a guiding force for us” but dismissed all talk about there being two power centres with Mrs Gandhi holding the post of Chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party.

After the media interaction, Dr Manmohan Singh drove to Mrs Gandhi’s residence for consultations on the formation of the Cabinet. Congress general secretary Kamal Nath, who came out with Dr Manmohan Singh gave one byte that the discussions revolved around the composition of the Union Council of Ministers.

The complexities of forming a ministry in a coalition arrangement is slowly but surely beginning to make its presence felt. As expected, some hard bargaining for key portfolios by the allies of the Congress is on.

Though Dr Manmohan Singh did not divulge the nature of his discussions with Mrs Gandhi, Congress general secretary Kamal Nath, who came out with the Prime Minister-designate, gave one byte that the consultations pertained to Cabinet formation.

Earlier, Dr Manmohan Singh said he had urged the President for a day or two in firming up the list of ministers. The President had in his letter to Dr Manmohan Singh sought his advice about the swearing-in ceremony as also the names of ministers to be inducted in the government.

Even as the NCP appeared all set to joining the NPA government headed by the Congress, serious cracks have developed in Laloo Prasad Yadav’s RJD. The party’s MPs urged Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav to first extract the promise of a Bihar package before being part of the Congress-led government. The RJD, however, left the final decision to the party’s supremo who dashed off to Patna and is expected to return to the capital tomorrow.

Meanwhile, any number of senior Congressmen having overseen key and various other portfolios in the past as also the foreign educated youthful brigade are anxiously waiting for that all-important telephone call to be part of Dr Manmohan Singh’s ministry.Back



  Unity and peace a priority; government to work to restore communal harmony.

  Favours dialogue with Pakistan to make friction a thing of past; to resolve all outstanding issues peacefully.

  India to talk with all interested parties to bring permanent peace in Jammu and Kashmir.

  Law of land should prevail in settlement of Ayodhya dispute.

  Govt committed to building strong private-public partnerships.

  Development to be a key priority; reforms aimed at removing poverty, increasing employment, raising agriculture production and ensuring health for all.

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