Tainted ministers to stay, asserts PM
New Delhi, June 30
Talking to newspersons after the presentation of Padma awards by President A.P.J.Abdul Kalam at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Prime Minister said the previous NDA ministry also had several charge-sheeted persons and the “distinction” now made was not “tenable”.
“This is not the first time that ministers who have been charge-sheeted have held on to their portfolios. I think the previous government itself had several (of them). Now pointing out a difference between ‘charge-sheeted’ for one person and others.... I don’t think it is a very tenable distinction,” he said.
Rejecting the Opposition demand, Mr Manmohan Singh said, “Well, I think, there are compulsions of coalition politics. People of India have given a verdict. You cannot deprive large sections of people they represent.”
“We have made an appeal to the Opposition not to disrupt the proceedings and allow discussions on developmental issues”, he observed.
On being told about the BJP’s decision to boycott the Rail Budget, the Prime Minister said, “ I sincerely hope that they will not persist with this attitude”.
Observing that he had told the Opposition that all issues could be debated in Parliament, which is the highest forum for this, Mr Manmohan Singh said “I appeal to their good sense. And I don’t say it with any sense of anger”.
Asked about the repeal of the anti-terrorism law, POTA, the Prime Minister said it would be done “in due course of time”.
On the issue of the Women’s Reservation Bill, he said, “We are committed to it. We have to create a broad consensus.”
Asked about the recent step up in violence in Jammu and Kashmir, he said, “Whenever talks take place between India and Pakistan, some elements, I think, do want to create confusion.”
He described as “rubbish” reports that he was going to Andhra Pradesh this week to discuss a safe Lok Sabha seat for him.
“I am going there to learn about the plight of the farmers and what we can do to relieve their distress,” he said.
Asked how was he felt having completed more than one month in office, he said, “We take our job seriously. We are learning very fast.
“And the Government should not be judged by merely what they say but what they do”, the Prime Minister stressed.
Speaking on the issue of rural development, Mr Manmohan Singh said the government was spending large sums of money and it should be obligatory that “we should be satisfied that we are getting the best return for that money.”
“I am not finding fault with various schemes or states”, he said and stressed that there was a need to look at the delivery systems whether they were working effectively on the ground and if any modification was required.
The Prime Minister said that he favoured a system that would plan from below to ensure that it suited the needs of the rural masses, their aspirations and their resource potential.
Government staff, both at the Centre as well as in the states, was today not well equipped to face the challenges, he said. “I think that applies to top civil servants whether they are Collectors, SPs and others. They don’t stay in their jobs for more than four to six months so how can they are accountable. Therefore, I think we have to sort out some of these issues”, the Prime Minister said.