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PM says he was not consulted on Tytler
‘I can’t match Advani in speaking but I act’
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, April 10
While indicating that he had not been happy with the Congress party’s decision to field Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar as candidates for the Lok Sabha elections, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh vehemently denied reports that the CBI’s clean chit to Tyler for his role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots was manipulated by the government.

A day after Tytler and Sajjan were withdrawn from the election fray, the Prime Minister virtually admitted that he had not agreed with the party’s initial choice but was happy that this decision had been reversed. Choosing his words carefully, the Prime Minister described the Congress decision as “better late than never” (der aaye, durust aaye), a clear giveaway that he had considered Tytler and Sajjan’s candidature to be incorrect.

Declining to elaborate on this issue, he said, “My views are the property of the party” but was quick to compliment the Congress for demonstrating sensitivity to the Sikh sentiments. “The fact that the decision was reversed shows that the party respected the sentiments of people,” he said at a meeting with members of the Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC) today.

As for the charges that the government had pressurised the CBI to give a clean chit to Tytler, the PM said he was neither informed nor consulted in this regard. “Any charge that we manipulated the CBI is absolutely false,” he underlined. The PM went on to explain that the CBI director felt it was a routine matter that had been pending for several months when asked about the reasons for keeping the PMO in the dark on this issue.

During his hour-long interaction with women journalists, which was more in the nature of an election campaign, the PM once again demonstrated his antipathy towards BJP’s PM-in-waiting LK Advani, as he went on to systematically demolish his political opponent in his trademark gentle but firm manner.

Speaking on a whole range of issues, he disclosed that he would have resigned if the Indo-US nuclear deal had not gone through. Although he was confident that the people would repose their faith in the Congress once again in the coming elections, he also agreed that the party’s inability to seal an electoral pact with the Samajwadi Party and the RJD would have an impact on the election results.

He also sought to put the Third Front in the dock for strengthening the BJP by dividing the secular vote even though it cannot form a government on its own. He was, however, fairly kind in his comments on the Left parties but was non-committal on whether the Congress would again do business with the Communists after the elections. “We shall cross that bridge when we come to it”, he said. In yet another sharp attack on Advani, Manmohan Singh dismissed the BJP leader’s challenge for a debate on television, saying he did not wish to accord him the privilege of being “an alternative Prime Minister”. He said Advani is asking for public debate with him when the BJP has constantly disrupted the Parliament and shied away from discussion.

Hitting out at Advani for repeatedly calling him a weak PM, Manmohan Singh said he agreed he could not match the BJP leader in public speaking but added that a person should be judged not only by his words but also by his action. Responding in kind to BJP’s prime ministerial candidate LK Advani’s attack, the PM said, “I agree that I can’t match Advani in public speaking, but I act”. “The proof of the pudding lies in the eating...what was Advani’s record,” he said as he went on to detail the UPA government’s achievements on the issues of economy, security and governance. Stating that one does not become strong or weak by merely talking loudly, he said he might not be a good speaker but “I take decisions.”

Continuing in the same vein, Singh remarked, “I am not used to abusive language. That is the culture inherited from parents, from teachers and the concept of what Indianness is,” adding “Using harsh language does not solve any problem and accentuates conflict,” he said. Speaking on India’s relations with Pakistan, Manmohan Singh denied there was any US pressure on them to resume talks with Islamabad and made it clear that any such pressure would not be tolerated. “Let me say, there is no pressure on us to resume dialogue. If there is any attempt...we will not succumb to that pressure,” he said.

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