Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pranab tells opposition to wait their chance at the next poll

New Delhi: Senior Congress leader and Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee made an unprecedented appearance at the party office to brief journalists on Friday evening. He sounded a worried man and spoke apprehensively at any attempt to destabilise the UPA government. “You are not destabilising a party, but you are destabilising the system,” he said.

It was a surprising note to sound on a day when Congress won the elections in Assam – on its own – and with allies in West Bengal and in Kerala. The party had been meted out a humiliating defeat in Tamil Nadu along with its alliance partner, the DMK.

“The opposition must wait till the next election and defeat the government,” he advised the opposition, without naming the BJP.

“We are grateful to the people in the states where we have won, and we accept with humility the verdict of the people where we have lost,” Mukherjee said.

When asked whether he felt the need for coarse correction on the part of UPA, he replied, “We do not make course correction because we have lost an election. We make them continuously, and finetune our policies all the time.”

But during the half-an-hour he spent with the media, Mukherjee's emphasis was on political stability, revealing a strong sense of anxiety in the Congress and in the government in the wake of the Tamil Nadu assembly poll defeat.

Mukherjee sensed the real meaning of the verdict in the state and saw in it a warning signal that the government would be under renewed opposition attack on the issue of corruption plaguing the UPA even before it has completed two years in its second term in office.

He recalled the political instability of the 1996-1998 period, and the two quick elections that followed in 1998 and in 1999. He said that the Congress in opposition led by party president Sonia Gandhi, who was also the leader of opposition at the time moved only a single no-confidence motion in the five-year period between 1999 and 2004. “Mrs Gandhi recognised the need for political stability and made it a party policy while in oppsoition,” he said.

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