No mid-term polls says PM, Sonia

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New Delhi, Oct 12: Scotching speculation that a mid-term Lok Sabha poll is imminent in view of the UPA-Left standoff on the Indo-US nuclear deal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi today asserted that the government would run its full course by completing the remaining 20 months.

''If the (nuclear) deal does not come through, it will be a disappointment. In life, one has to live with certain disappointments and move on,'' Dr Singh said, ruling out the possibility of early elections.

''Well, elections are still far away. The government has still one and a half years to complete its full term. I hope, we will stay in course'' for completing its five-year term as ''it is not a one issue government.'' Dr Singh was replying to a pointed question, ''Are you looking at elections?'' at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit.

Interacting with the gathering at the summit later, Ms Gandhi said the nuclear deal was not a ''be all, end all'' issue. ''I regret it is perceived like that. But it is not like that. It is one of the issues of the government,'' Ms Gandhi said.

Both Dr Singh and Ms Gandhi categorically denied that they had launched any attack on the Left on the nuclear deal.

The Prime Minister said he had only expressed the optimism that better sense would prevail, while Ms Gandhi said it was not in her nature or any of her party colleagues to go public over the differences with the Left.

Replying to a question about her reported criticism of the Left, describing it as the enemy of development, in a recent public address in Haryana, Ms Gandhi said she was merely referring to the opposition in that state, not the Left parties.

Asked about the rigid positions taken by the government and the Left on the deal, Ms Gandhi said ''we will try our best and work towards bringing about a consensus with the Left...Let us hope (for the best). We are still in the process'' of holding talks within the 15-member panel set up to resolve the differences. Ms Gandhi was asked whether the government had softened its stand in the past one week and was willing to be more accommodative.

She said the government had never been ''hostile.'' It had only explained its position ''clearly and firmly.'' ''We are not looking for a confrontation. It is not in the coalition dharma,'' she argued.

The UPA and the Left would ''work together and try and understand and accommodate each other's view.'' Ms Gandhi also would not agree that the Left was unreasonable.

''I don't think they are unreasonable. We have to understand the Left. The left has certain ideology and views on certain issues.

They are merely stating their views...We have to listen to their views.'' She was asked whether it would be correct if the newspapers carried a headline stating that the government had backed down on the deal and Ms Gandhi had ruled out mid-term polls.

''Unless you write something like that, nobody will read your newspaper'' was the instant response of Ms Gandhi, evoking laughter and applause from the gathering.


UNI

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