New Delhi, Apr 30: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today described as ''nok jhok'' (sparring) in politics the differences between his office and the Left parties on the issue of inflation. ''In politics, nok jhok chalti rahti hai'' (sparring is quite common in politics), Dr Singh told reporters who sought his response to the Left parties taking offence to the PMO's statement on inflation after his talks with a delegation of Left leaders led by CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat.
The Left parties had objected to the PMO statement which had quoted Dr Singh as cautioning them against politicising the misery of the people affected by the rising prices of essential commodities. The Prime Minister was talking to reporters after a function held at his official residence at 7 Race Course Road where he released a book published by The Tribune, as part of its 125th anniversary celebrations.
Asked whether he was confident of a positive outcome from the May 6 UPA-Left meeting, he said ''one is always hopeful.'' He was also asked whether he was distancing himself from the PMO on the issue of supply of natural gas to companies owned by the relatives of Shipping Minister T R Baalu. PMO had reportedly written letters to the Petroleum Ministry recommending supply of gas.
''There is nothing to distance'' himself. ''The Petroleum Minister has made a statement in Parliament today explaining the whole thing,'' Dr Singh said.
To a question on women's reservation, he said constant efforts were being made on the issue.
Earlier, in his address at the function, Dr Singh said the book, The Tribune 125 Years: An Anthology, showed that The Tribune was not just a source of daily news but also a record of history and an important opinion maker.
''It is these three roles that give the media a special place in a democracy. If media is confined only to the here and now, it ceases to play the role of the Fourth Estate,'' he said.
The important role was claimed only when media was able to take a larger view of daily events, shape public opinion in a constructive way and record history even as it was being made, the Prime Minister said.
Mr R S Talwar, President of the Tribune Trust, said the daily had been the voice of the people before independence and continued to be so now.
Mr H K Dua, Editor-in-Chief, said the daily never compromised its independence and what it had stood for, upholding the highest professional values expected of the free media. The Tribune would bring out another book on the history of the daily by the end of this year.
Among others who attended the function was former Prime Minister I K Gujral.