India doesn't need a wrestler-like Prime Minister, says Pranab Mukherjee

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New Delhi, April 7 (ANI): Senior Congress leader and External Affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said that a candidate for prime ministership need not be a muscular person or wrestler or be evaluated on the basis of his age.

Apparently responding to Opposition leader Lal Krishan Advani's repeated charge that Dr. Manmohan Singh was the weakest prime minister that India has had since it gained independence from the British, Mukherjee said: "Prime Ministers are not expected to be the wrestlers. Prime Minister is expected to deliver goods. For the last five years, Dr. Manmohan Singh has provided the leadership of a complex coalition."

"Of course he has his own style of approach. He is a decent gentleman. He is an expert in his own area. Secondly, I do not understand why he (Advani) is comparing with the age of Dr. Manmohan Singh. Dr. Manmohan Singh, I think, is not elder than Advani," Pranab added.

On India-Pakistan relations, Pranab stated that India expected Pakistan must fulfill its bilateral obligations, as had been agreed upon or conveyed at the highest levels of both the countries.

"We are insisting that Pakistan must fulfill its bilateral obligations given to us at the highest level by two presidents to our two prime ministers that Pakistani land will not be allowed to be used by terrorists, to dismantle the infrastructural facilities available to the terrorists, who are operating from the land of Pakistan, and to bring the perpetrators of the terror attacks to justice. This, we are demanding because these are the obligations which Pakistan has undertaken," Mukherjee said.

Mukherjee's remarks assume significance in the wake of a television report saying that extremists from Pakistan are making the entry into India from undisclosed locations.

Reminding Pakistan of its bilateral obligations, Pranab said: "Bilateral obligations, as I mentioned to you, the commitment made by President Musharaff and President Asif Zardari to our former prime ministers and to our incumbent prime minister, regional obligations as they are party to the SAARC, anti-terror convention, international obligations because they are party to the various UN resolutions to fight against terrorism. They must fulfill it. This is our simple demand."

Replying to a question regarding Jammu and Kashmir, Pranab chose to underline how people of Jammu and Kashmir had expressed solidarity and eagerness for peace by showing faith in nation's electoral process.

"We have made our positions quite clear, and the successive elections in Jammu and Kashmir have clearly demonstrated, particularly in the last two elections, that people of Jammu and Kashmir want peace. People of Jammu and Kashmir did not respond to the boycott call of Hurriyat or to the threat of disrupting the process of elections. They faced challenge, given by the extremists and Hurriyat, bravely in the most unfavourable weather at that point of time when elections were held," said Pranab.

Asked if Pranab foresees any possibility of occupying the top post himself, he categorically denied having any such ambition in his mind.

"No question of having that ambition because I am quite satisfied with the responsibilities, which has been entrusted to me by the party from time to time. Almost four decades here the various considerations, all aspects have to be looked into. More than often I say that there might have been so many people wanting to be the prime minister, they had the competence, capabilities.

But, in the system, there will be only one prime minister. There cant be more than one," Pranab said. By Smita Prakash (ANI)

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