On Board Air India One: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Tuesday that Home
Minister P. Chidambaram enjoyed his full confidence, and asserted
that his government will "stay the course" and complete its full
five-year term despite what he called the Opposition's attempts to
"force" early elections.
Addressing reporters on board his special aircraft while returning
home from New York after attending the UN General Assembly
session, Singh accused the opposition of getting "prematurely
restless" to "force" early elections and asked them to be patient.
He said attempts were being made to "destabilise the polity".
He said there was no dissension in his cabinet in the context of a
recent finance ministry note which suggested that P. Chidambaram,
as the then finance minister, had not done enough to ensure the
auction of 2G spectrum.
"We are a cohesive government. We shall give cohesive governance.
There is no room for dissensions in my cabinet," Manmohan Singh
maintained. Having said this, he added that in the cabinet, there
are always debates with "an open mind".
"The ministers have a different perspective. That does not amount
to lacking cohesiveness. It always helps in taking decisions.
There is nothing of the sort that the media has been writing about
for the last few days," he said about the reported differences
between Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Chidambaram.
Asked whether he would give a clean chit to Chidambaram, the prime
minister said he enjoyed his full confidence.
He said he had read the finance ministry note of March 25 which
was being set out as a blueprint.
"All these matters are now before the courts. And it is not
appropriate for me to make a comment. These are also property of
the people (under the RTI Act)," Singh said.
He admitted that there could be a problem of perception about his
government and there was a need to correct it. To a question on
"growing perception" that the ministers were fighting among
themselves in the context of the 2G note, he said there were no
differences among the ministers.
"I think the ministerial fight you are talking about (in the
media), I am not aware of such thing," he said.
"... I suspect there are other forces which want to destabilise
our polity," he said when asked about an impression that the UPA-II
government had lost the goodwill and momentum it had in its
Manmohan Singh said in UPA-I, there were newcomers and innovators
as evidenced by the new flagship programmes they had brought.
"Now as far as the approval of UPA-II is concerned, the issues the
government is accused of indulging in -- 2G or something else -
the opposition thinks, should have happened before elections,"
Manmohan Singh said.
"I think it has failed. They lost the elections and till then we
have had this assembly (elections). The Congress party has been
successful," the prime minister said.
"Therefore, I suspect there are other forces which want to
destabilise our country," he added.
Manmohan Singh said it was simply not about this crisis and that
there were other issues that the government has to manage, like
controlling inflation and "nothing should be done to weaken the
Replying to a question about the opposition, which appeared
reasonable during UPA-I, the prime minister said it was getting
"I have said this in parliament that we have the mandate of the
people to govern for five years and the opposition should wait for
"They have got some weak points of our government and think that
(they) can force elections. This is not the way. This government
has the mandate for five years. It will stay its course and we
will do so," he said.
"Once this happens, and if we look behind (after completing the
term), we would have surprised (everyone)," the prime minister
Replying to a question whether he was thinking of a reshuffle, he
said if it happened, the journalists would come to know about it.