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Manmohan says he is doing his best, flays media

Wednesday June 29, 2011 08:06:49 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: A frustrated Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday denied "a growing perception" that his coalition government was under siege and said that he was doing his best to curb corruption.

In a free and frank interaction with a group of editors here, Manmohan Singh moaned that India's economic story would be hit because of "constant sniping" between the government and the opposition.

"I think there is a growing perception that this government is in siege, that we have not been able to deliver on our agenda," he said in his opening remarks.

"An atmosphere has been created in the country - and this I say with all humility - the role of the media today in many cases has become that of the accuser, the prosecutor and the judge."

This way, Manmohan Singh said, no parliamentary democracy could work.

The prime minister spoke his mind out amid growing corruption scandals that have badly dented the image of the Congress-led government that began its second five-year innings in 2009.

While admitting that some people may "deliberately do wrong things", he said it was vital to create an atmosphere where the governments, ministers and civil servants could work without fear.

"We take decisions in a world of uncertainty, and that's the perspective I think parliament, our CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) and our media must adopt if this nation is to move forward."

The remarks followed a still unravelling corruption scandal involving allocation of second generation spectrum by his government that has landed a former cabinet minister, a key MP and some industrialists in jail. A prominent Congress leader is also in prison over corruption charges linked to last year's Commonwealth Games.

The prime minister warned that if an atmosphere of cynicism was created all round, "I think the growth impulses ... will not flourish."

And that, he said, "worries me".

Corruption, the economist-turned-politician admitted, "is a big issue. It has caught the imagination of the people, and we will deal with it."

Manmohan Singh said there were differences and "there will be differences" over how to battle corruption, "but there are mechanisms to resolves these differences".

He made a specific mention of both Gandhian Anna Hazare and yoga guru Baba Ramdev, who have taken to the streets campaigning against corruption and black money.

But he made it clear that while the government would introduce a strong Lokpal bill to fight corruption, "it is for parliament to pass it or amend it and that right cannot be taken away".

In any case, the government had no magic wand, he underlined.

"We can deal with corruption, we can deal with black money but quite frankly it is wrong for anyone to assume there is a magic wand which will lead to an instant solution of these difficult societal problems."

The prime minister, who enjoys widespread respect for personal probity, made no effort to hide his frustration.

"In the situation today, day in day out we are described as the most corrupt government.

"There have been aberrations. But quite frankly I have been a civil servant all my life, except the last 20 years. What surprises me is not that there are corrupt civil servants but that despite all the temptations, so many of our civil servants remain honest and lead frugal lives and this is the mainspring that we have to tap.

"We must punish the wrong doers but we must not paint all civil servants as babus and contemptuously describe them as a despicable class."








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