All options are open, including with Left: PM (Lead)

April 20th, 2009 - 10:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, April 20 (IANS) Exuding remarkable confidence over the poll outcome, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday said the Congress and its allies would form the next government, but left the door open for the Left parties, saying “all options are open”.
“The Congress and its allies will form the next government,” Manmohan Singh said when asked whether he was optimistic about forming the next government. He was speaking to senior journalists on the lawns of his 7, Race Course Road residence after the launch of IT icon N. Narayana Murthy’s book “A Better India, A Better World”.

“If we can form the government on our own, it’s so much the better. But if perchance there is a need for others to come in and support us, all options are open,” the prime minister said in reply to a question on whether he was open to the idea of taking support of the Left in case the numbers did not add up.

“I am not ruling anyone out, I am not ruling anyone in,” the prime minister said cryptically.

“We will cross the bridge when we come to it,” he added.

Asked specifically about the Left’s opposition to the India-US nuclear deal that led them to withdraw support to the ruling coalition and whether he had any hopes of the Communists supporting the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) again, the prime minister said: “We have worked with them in the past. Why can’t we work with them again? It’s all part of democratic politics.”

The Communists have ruled out support to the UPA after the elections unless it puts the nuclear deal in cold storage. In their manifestoes, the Left parties have said that if a government is formed with their support, they will press for a review of the nuclear deal which they fear will suck India into a strategic alliance with the US.

The prime minister dismissed the Left’s contention as campaign rhetoric, saying the Left was not against building better relations with the US though they had a problem with calling it a “strategic” alliance.

“We have strategic alliance with so many countries, including Russia, China, France, etc. So why do they object to our having strategic ties with the US,” the prime minister asked with a smile.

Manmohan Singh also said he was going to campaign intensively in the next few weeks. “I was in Guwahati yesterday, I will be in Latur (Maharashtra) tomorrow and then to Karnataka and other places,” he said, showing little sign of any campaign fatigue and little indication that he had undergone a second heart bypass surgery in January.

He replied in the negative when asked whether he was “nervous” about the outcome of the election. “Life is not worth living if there is no problem,” he added.

When asked whether he had any regrets in his five years in power, he said he was a “very satisfied” man.

“When I look back, we have completed more than 80 per cent of the promises, except the women’s reservation (in legislatures) issue,” he said.

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