New Delhi: Signalling the Congress-led UPA’s intention to continue with decisions to revive high GDP growth, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday said economic reforms was not a “once for all process” and the government will do what was good for the country.
Speaking to reporters at Rashtrapti Bhawan after the swearing-in ceremony of Justice Altamas Kabir as the new Chief Justice of India, the prime minister said: “Reform is not a once for all process.”
The remarks evoked an attack from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which accused him of working under US pressure while the Congress defended him saying that he always acts in the best interest of the country.
The BJP, Left and other parties have strongly protested the government’s recent economic decisions, including allowing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, hike in diesel price and cap on subsidised LPG cylinders to six for each household per year.
Some Congress allies in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government have also expressed their reservations over the decisions.
Asked whether UPA allies were demanding a rollback of the recent economic steps announced by the government, Manmohan Singh said: “We will do what is good for the country.”
Asked about Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s allegation that the FDI decision had been taken to please the US, the prime minister said India took decisions in its own interests.
“We are not a country to be dictated by other countries,” the prime minister said.
Asked about attacks by Trinamool Chief Mamata Banerjee, who has pulled out of the UPA, the prime minister said: “I am not bitter about anything.”
Banerjee said that “reform” was being used to justify anti-people decisions. “Reforms are meant to usher development for the people. Now-a-days, whenever any anti-people decision is taken, it is taken in the name of reforms. In the name of reforms and ‘aam admi’, loot cholchhe (loot is going on),” Banerjee said on the social network site Facebook.
Replying to a question on the Supreme Court’s opinion that auction was not the sole method of allocating natural resources, Manmohan Singh said: “We will honour and respect the judgment. We welcome it.”
On other contentious issues, Manmohan Singh said, “We are far away from elections. We can discuss anything.”
BJP leader Balbir Punj said: “We welcome what he (Manmohan Singh) said, but he has not done anything for the welfare of the country.”
“He is under US pressure. India is independent no doubt, but the prime minister is surely not independent. He is under 10 Janpath, and overall, he works under US pressure,” Punj told a television channel.
Congress spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit rejected the BJP’s criticism and said the prime minister always acts in the best interests of the country. “The prime minister does what he is convinced (about),” Diskshit said.
He said the the BJP had also looked at the possibility of FDI in multi-brand retail when it was in power.
Manmohan Singh had addressed the nation earlier this month defending his government’s economic decisions and had asked people not to be misled by those who wanted to confuse by spreading fear and false information.
He had said that time had come for “hard decisions” and had sought people’s trust, understanding and cooperation.