PM ‘waiting for the finals’ on his government’s popularity

May 23rd, 2008 - 1:37 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, May 22 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is “waiting for the finals” to find out the popularity of his government that completed four years Thursday. “Waiting for the finals,” he quipped when reporters asked him how he rates his government.

Talking on the sidelines of an anniversary dinner hosted by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at his 7, Race Course Road residence, Manmohan Singh listed “an accountable government” as its single most achievement of the four years.

Asked about the Karnataka assembly elections, whose third and final round concluded Thursday, he said: “Wait and see.”

At the dinner, the prime minister shared the table with Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) politburo member Sitaram Yechury.

After the dinner, he moved to the table occupied by Samajwadi Party national general secretary Amar Singh, who had made a late but dramatic appearance at the event.

On the Rajasthan government rounding up illegal Bangladeshi migrants in the wake of the May 13 terror blasts in Jaipur that killed 61 people, Manmohan Singh said: “They are illegal foreigners; we have to deal with it.”

But he refused to answer on Patil’s comment that Afzal Guru, who was found guilty in the Dec 13, 2001 attack on the parliament complex, should be given the same treatment as Sarabjit Singh, an Indian facing death sentence in Pakistan on terror charges.

Answering to the charge of the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that the prime minister was leading a “directionless government”, he said : “This is an attack by a frustrated opposition. I have already convened three meetings of chief ministers and I am always willing to convene such meetings when the need arises.”

The torrential rains played spoilsport as not many invitees could turn up for the event. But the Left parties, which have supported the UPA government from outside, turned up in full strength.

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi was seen talking and meeting with other party members. He said he would go to his parliamentary constituency Amethi where he has organised a cricket match June 2.

Flanked by CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat and politburo member Brinda Karat, UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, however, barely exchanged words with Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh, who had been in the eye of a controversy over his statements on sycophancy.

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