M A I N   N E W S

UPA set to stage a comeback: PM
Says unhappy allies can be mollified
Naveen S Garewal and Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service


  • All secular parties have an obligation to provide a ‘purposeful, secular’ government at the Centre.
  • Indo-US civil nuclear deal has been signed, sealed and operationalised. It cannot be an issue for dialogue.
  • There is a set of procedure (before executing a death sentence) and the procedure has to be followed.

Ludhiana, May 11
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said he was confident about the UPA forming the next government. The least he expected was that the Congress would emerge as the single largest party.

Addressing mediapersons at the conclusion of the UPA campaign for the fifth and final round of polling here today, Dr Manmohan Singh said the NDA could not be taken seriously as it remained divided, despite its efforts to put up a united face. “It is wrong to say that there are no differences within the NDA as all big groups have already left the alliance and more difference will be visible in the near future,” he said.

About the Third Front, the Prime Minister said it, too, was disintegrating and “you will see it breaking soon”. He made it clear that the Congress had put up his names as its prime ministerial candidate and he had given his approval to the same. It was therefore not possible for the Congress to enter into any post-poll alliance in which the Congress offered conditional support “to someone other than him as Prime Minister”.

Referring to the NDA “maha rally” held here yesterday, the Prime Minister said: “People had already listened to the tone and tenor of speeches made by leaders like Narendra Modi. If such people are part of the next government, you can imagine the direction of the next government”. He appealed to the people to keep the NDA out of power, but at the same time said “all secular forces have an obligation to give the country a purposeful government”.

Making a reference to the “hand shake” between Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Dr Manmohan Singh said: “I felt Nitish had secular credentials. But, after seeing him shake hands with Modi, I have had some doubts”. He reacted strongly to the allegation of discrimination by the UPA government against Bihar saying: “I have checked up, Bihar was asked to return unutilised and lapsed grants. So, the fault, if any, was with the Bihar government”.

He also censured the SAD-BJP government in Punjab saying that while it had failed to utilise the Central funds, the SAD government was falsely trying to claim discrimination.

In a reply to a question about backing Left parties, the Prime Minister said there was no question of backing the Left. When asked if it were possible to have a post-poll alliance with the Left, he said: “If anyone is annoyed with us, there is always a possibility of winning over annoyed alliance partners”.

He added that differences with the Left were over the nuclear deal that had been “signed, sealed and operationalised, so there I see no scope for a wider dialogue on the issue. But all secular forces should work together to form the government”.

Reacting to the allegation by NDA prime ministerial candidate LK Advani of his being a weak Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh said: “Weakness or strength should be measured by one’s performance. During my tenure as Prime Minister, India witnessed a growth of 8.6 per cent and despite a global economic slowdown, India’s growth rate was the second highest in the world. The agriculture production had doubled compared to that during the time of the NDA government”. He pegged India’s future growth for the next fiscal at 6.5 per cent.

In a special appeal seeking vote for Manish Tewari, party candidate from Ludhiana, he said: “People in the industrial hub of Ludhiana are hardworking and praiseworthy. I know they have borne the brunt of economic slowdown. But, I can assure you that the UPA, if elected to power, will bring a special package for the state’s industry”.



Cong plays Manmohan card in Majha
Dharmendra Joshi
Tribune News Service

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Congress candidate from Khadoor Sahib Rana Gurjit Singh in Tarn Taran
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Congress candidate from Khadoor Sahib Rana Gurjit Singh in Tarn Taran on Monday. Tribune photo: Pradeep Tewari

Khadoor Sahib, May 11
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s election rally at Kaka Kandiala village on the Amritsar-Tarn Taran road today may be termed as an attempt of the Congress to revive its lost base in the Majha region.

The Congress is leaving no stone unturned to break the SAD bastion as six of total nine assembly constituencies included in newly carved Khadoor Sahib parliamentary constituency were earlier part of the Tarn Taran parliamentary constituency (now dissolved), where SAD candidates have emerged victorious since Emergency, except in 1991 when the SAD boycotted the elections.

Even in last parliamentary elections, SAD candidate from Khadoor Sahib Rattan Singh Ajnala (364,646) defeated his nearest rival Congress candidate Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria (Raja Sansi MLA, 308,252) with a margin of 56,934 votes from Tarn Taran.

Keeping all this in mind, Jalandhar MP and Congress candidate from Khadoor Sahib Rana Gurjit Singh did not forget to raise the issue of the first Sikh Prime Minister in his electioneering.

A joyous Rana said he had campaigned in such a manner that this Akali bastion was already broken. At the same time, he said Dr Manmohan Singh’s rally would further increase the margin of his victory.

Meanwhile, Dr Ajnala said the rally would not have any impact on the electorate here as the CBI had given clean chit during Manmohan regime to Jagdish Tytler and delayed the filing of charge sheet against Sajjan Kumar.

Rana demanded from the Prime Minister a special package for border districts of north Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat touching international border with Pakistan on the lines of north-eastern region.

Punjabi singer Babbu Mann entertained the gathering.



Sidelights of PM’s rally at Amritsar
PK Jaiswar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 11
While ridiculing the NDA rally at Ludhiana in which Chief Ministers of the BJP and its alliance-ruled states, besides its senior leaders had gathered on Sunday, Capt Amarinder Singh said from the scene it looked like days of the SAD-BJP ruled government were numbered in the state and NDA leaders had assembled to pay sympathy with them similar to the kind people used to gather during the bhog ceremony of a person.

  • Electricity played a hide-and-seek game during the visit of the Prime Minister.
  • Local media channels allegedly controlled by Akalis failed to give a live telecast of the election rally of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Amritsar, whereas there was a live telecast of Advani’s rally at Majitha.
  • People were seen thronging the venue of PM’s rally even after Dr Manmohan Singh finished his speech and left the stage.
  • As soon as Rahul Gandhi arrived on stage and waved to the crowd, young Congress activists started shouting “Rahul Bhaiya Zindabad”.
  • Cameramen of the Election Commission could be seen recording the proceedings of the rally with details of chairs, size of pandal, stage etc
  • The mood of the Congress was upbeat after seeing huge gathering present in the pandal, while people were also waiting for their turn to enter near the boundary as they were being frisked by policemen.
  • People were seen sitting on the roofs of buses in the scorching heat to have a glimpse of son of the soil.
  • There were no hoardings or billboards near the venue and there was pin-drop silence during the speech.



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