PM will campaign, says Varun Gandhi’s remarks ‘unfortunate’ (Lead)

March 19th, 2009 - 10:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, March 19 (IANS) In his first public comments after he underwent a coronary bypass surgery nearly two months ago, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday said he would be campaigning for the Congress and termed Varun Gandhi’s alleged communal remarks “unfortunate”.
“If Varun Gandhi’s comments are correct, then it is very unfortunate,” Singh told reporters at the Defence Investiture Ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Varun Gandhi, 29, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate from Pilibhit, is in the midst of a raging controversy over his alleged hate speech against Muslims. The BJP Wednesday said it was “distancing and dissociating” itself from the comments attributed to the “other” Gandhi scion.

“Of course, I am alright,” the prime minister, who is recovering after a cardiac surgery Jan 24, said when asked if he would campaign for the party in the April-May elections.

He also underlined his optimism that people will vote the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) back to power.

“I am confident that the people of India will vote UPA back to power on our performance,” Singh said.

“Rivals are rivals, we should not underestimate anyone,” he said when asked about the Third Front and the principal rivals of his party in the forthcoming elections.

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