Manmohan Singh
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan SinghReuters

Amidst huge pressure from the Opposition party to step down over the coalgate controversy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ruled out quitting and said that the BJP should respect the verdict of the people and let the Government function.

The PM answered several questions about the prevailing crisis in the country's political affairs during on-board interaction with media persons on Friday, on his way back to Delhi from Tehran after attending the NAM Summit.

On asked about the opposition demand for his resignation over the Coalgate controversy, the Prime Minister ruled out the option of quitting to pacify the agitating BJP, which has been stalling the Parliament funtions over a week.

"If I were resigning I wouldn't have been here. I hope the Opposition will see sense. We are a parliamentary democracy. We have been elected by the people of India for a five-year term. I sincerely hope that the BJP will respect the verdict of the people and let the Government function," said Manmohan Singh, while appealing to the BJP to wait till the next elections to test the political fortunes.

The Prime Minister expressed regret over India's meek economic growth and said that the government was unable to tackle serious issues owing to opposition's "diversionary tactics."

"I would very much have liked, that the opposition would give us a chance to work in a manner that the basic problems of India like poverty, hunger, disease can be tackled effectively. Unfortunately, from one crisis to the other, the BJP has chosen to disrupt Parliament," said Singh.

"These are all diversionary tactics. One has 24 hrs at one's disposal. If one is preoccupied all the time with handling these diversionary tactics, naturally it affects the ability and capacity of the government to attend to its more fundamental tasks, which I am always saying is to grapple with the mass poverty and ignorance and disease which still affect millions and millions of our citizens," he added.

When asked whether the government will favour the demand of bringing the Prime Minister under the ambit of much-debated Lokpal Bill, Singh said that he has always supported it.

"I have always been in favour of bringing the Prime Minister within the scope of being judged by the Lokpal. I have said that many times and I repeat that I am not afraid of myself or any Prime Minister being brought within the purview of the jurisdiction of Lokpal," said the Prime Minister. "But the bill is now in the court of Parliament, whatever the outcome, we will respect the outcome."

He also expressed the hope that young Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will take a bigger role in the government this time by accepting his invitation to be a member of the Cabinet.  

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