On Board Air India One:  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday said he did not want to get into a slanging match with political leaders and it was better for him to remain 'silent'.

Not getting into slanging match

The Prime Minister said he did not want to get into a slanging match with the BJP on its demand he resign over the coal block allotments because he wanted to preserve the dignity of the office of the Prime Minister.

"I have to maintain the dignity of the office of the prime minister. I can't get into a tu-tu main-main or a slanging match with other political leaders. So it is better, as I said earlier, that I keep silence," the Prime Minister told reporters on board his special flight on his way home from the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran.

He was responding to a question on why he was allowing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to set the political agenda by stalling the Parliament over their demand that he quits over the controversy.

"If I were resigning, I won't be here," the Prime Minister said in response to another question on the BJP demand.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has been stalling the Parliament over the coal scam, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister who was the coal minister during the period when the controversial coal block allocations were made.

Lack of cohesion in politics holds up growth

Singh blamed "lack of cohesion" in domestic politics as one of the reasons why the country was not able to move forward economically.

"We have laid the foundation of 9 percent growth", but the international economic downturn has affected India's economy, he said, adding that "lack of cohesion in domestic politics" was another factor.

Hope Rahul takes more proactive role

Singh further expressed the hope that Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi takes a more proactive role in government.

"I have always been of the view that Rahul Gandhi should play a more proactive role. I have invited him to be part of cabinet many times...  I hope this time he will consider it very seriously," he told reporters on board after his four-day trip to Trehan. But, he also said that he has no "inside information" about Gandhi's plans.

Assam violence a cause of worry

The Prime Minister further said the ethnic violence in Assam that has claimed over 80 lives is a "cause of worry".

"The ethnic tension, the disturbing of peace in Assam is certainly a cause of worry." The fleeing of thousands of people belonging to the northeast from Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune and other southern cities is not good,” PM said while adding that his government would work for the return of cohesion in the country.


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