Will go ahead with n-deal, face parliament: Manmohan Singh (Lead)

July 7th, 2008 - 8:22 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

On Board Air India One, July 7 (IANS) Prime Minister Mannmohan Singh said Monday he was ready to go ahead with the India-US nuclear deal, was not afraid of facing parliament and snubbed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani for his unsolicited advice on when to hold elections. Asserting that he was “not worried” by the political crisis that has threatened the survival of his government, Manmohan Singh said his government was “equipped” to deal with any contingency. But he did not “foresee elections before time”.

A relaxed prime minister, combative at times, spoke with complete self-assurance even when countering pointed questions as he faced the media soon after taking off on an eight-and-a-half-hour flight to Sapporo in the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, the venue of the G-8 summit.

He said he was hopeful the Left would still come on board, insisting that the deal was in national interest and necessary for the country’s long-term energy security.

Asked what he would tell US President George Bush, who is among the many world leaders he is meeting during the next two days, Manmohan Singh said: “I will tell him what I have always told him… that we remain committed to the civil nuclear cooperation agreement.

“It has been my effort to push the civil nuclear cooperation agreement and the government remains committed to it.”

The prime minister also outlined the sequence of procedures the government will follow to push the nuclear deal towards its conclusion and hoped the IAEA board of governors “can take a quick decision” on a safeguards pact.

“We have an agreed text by the staff of the IAEA and I am confident that it will not take too long for the board of governors, who will take the call.”

He said that China may not prove an obstacle as this had been discussed with Chinese leaders more than once.

“I cannot say that I have a firm assurance but I have a strong feeling that when the matter comes up in the relevant international fora, China will not be a problem.”

Asked specifically about Advani’s demand that the government should opt for elections if the Left withdraws legislative support, the prime minister first said: “We will cross the bridge when it comes”. He then snapped: “We are not afraid of facing parliament. Advani need not give any unsolicited advice to us on that.”

He also said that he did not “foresee elections before time”. The term of the current Lok Sabha ends in May 2009.

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