M A I N   N E W S

PM ready to appear before PAC
Says like Caesar’s wife, PM should be above suspicion
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

Our good fortune to work under Sonia Gandhi

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday said it was his good fortune to work under the leadership of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her brand of clean politics. "Yeh hamari behad khushkismati hai ki ham Sonia Gandhi ke netritva mein kam kar rahe hai (It is our good fortune that we are working under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi),” the Prime Minister said while addressing the Congress plenary here.

He also appreciated the Congress president's clean politics and her agenda for eradicating corruption. "Soniaji has yesterday outlined our approach and what we can and we should do to eradicate corruption in public life,” Manmohan Singh said, adding that his government would pay “close attention” to what she had said during her address at the plenary on Sunday. — IANS

New Delhi, December 20
Taking the battle to the Opposition camp, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today offered to appear before the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in connection with the 2G Spectrum scam probe, saying “he had nothing to hide”. And their leader’s unusual aggressive stance enthused the Congress workers, who otherwise appeared demoralised due to the Opposition’s impending nationwide campaign against “corruption” during the UPA regime.

Speaking on the concluding day of the Congress plenary at Burari here, the Prime Minister said the BJP had been “falsely propagating” that the UPA government had declined to set up a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) as it did not want the Prime Minister to be questioned, implying that “I have something to hide”.

“I wish to state categorically that I have nothing to hide from the public and as a proof of my bonafides, I shall be happy to appear before the PAC if its asks me to do so,” he said. Stating that like Caesar’s wife the Prime Minister should be above suspicion, he said he was prepared to appear before the PAC though there was no precedent to that effect.

Notably, the Prime Minister’s announcement to appear before the PAC and his attack on the Opposition comes two days ahead of the BJP-led NDA’s rally in Delhi to “expose the UPA government’s involvement in various corruption scams”. The BJP, it is learnt, would explain to the public the reasons behind their pressing for a JPC probe, a demand for which the party disrupted the entire Winter session of Parliament.

Congress leaders were quick to welcome the Prime Minister’s offer, stating that it was “extremely well-timed” as he had not only “seized the high moral ground” but would also dent the Opposition’s campaign against the UPA government.

Describing it as a “masterstroke”, AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh told mediapersons later that it was nothing short of a “brave gesture”. “I congratulate the Prime Minister for making an unprecedented brave and extraordinary offer to appear before the PAC. It’s a masterstroke,” he said, adding that never before in the history of independent India had a prime minister appeared before a parliamentary committee.

In keeping with the party’s strategy to go on the offensive, the Prime Minister’s speech at the plenary contained a strident attack against the BJP-led Opposition. He accused it of “obduracy” over its insistent demand for a JPC probe into the 2G Spectrum issue and said the government felt that a JPC would only delay the inquiry and politicise the matter as the government had already ordered a multi-agency probe into the matter. He said a PAC in itself was a joint parliamentary committee presided over by senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi and had all the necessary powers.

Hitting out at the BJP, he said while the Congress had asked its ministers and chief ministers to step down on mere charges, opposition parties insisted on retaining their tainted chief ministers.

Giving details about various agencies investigating the 2G Spectrum issue and the Commonwealth Games, Manmohan Singh sent out an unambiguous message that the guilty would be punished irrespective of the power they yielded and their party affiliation. “It is my promise to you that no guilty person will be spared,” he said.




‘Pak must deliver with sincerity’
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 20
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today made it clear that friendly relations with Pakistan hinged upon its capacity to curb terror originating from its soil. The PM, while speaking on relations with Pakistan at the Congress plenary, said: “We want friendly relations… But we know that this will be possible only when our neighbour will see to it that its territory is not used for terrorist activities against us.”

The party today passed a resolution saying “… Pakistan must deliver with sincerity in its assurances to dismantle the terror outfits…. And bring to justice the perpetrators and masterminds of the Mumbai carnage”. The resolution also emphasised how the UPA regime had exposed Pakistan’s “syndicate of terror”.

Earlier, the PM, on the eve of the arrival of Russian President Dimitry Medvedev, said ties with Russia have traditionally been friendly and warm while expressing “confidence” that relations would continue “to be excellent in the future also”.

The two nations have one of the biggest defence cooperation agreements and have been partners since the early 1960s. For the United States and other western powers, the PM said our relations are “improving”. In a way he balanced out any perceived “tilt” that Russia may “read” between India and its newfound friends. Medvedev commences his two-day visit tomorrow where a series of defence and nuclear pacts are in the offing.

With his visit India will complete a unique feat. The heads of all five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, UK France Russia and China - have visited the country in the past six months.

Touching upon China, the PM made it clear that “there is great potential for working together with China, especially in economic matters…We have some outstanding issues with them which we hope to resolve in an atmosphere of friendship.” The two nations have stated their goal to have $100 billion trade with each other by 2015.

Explaining the “Look East Policy”, he said we had paid special attention to our relations with East Asian and South East Asian countries.





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