Mumbai: The UPA government made a mistake by changing the NDA decision of linking petrol prices with fluctuations in international crude prices, Agriculture Minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar has said.
 
Pawar also said the government should take tough decisions in the larger national interest even if it upsets people.

"Vajpayee's Cabinet had linked petrol prices with changes in the international crude prices. We made a mistake by changing this decision. I had opposed the change.

"Government should make tough decisions in the larger national interests even if it upsets the people. One has to swallow a bitter pill to get cured. We did not make some decisions at the right time and price rise is an ill-effect of that," Pawar said.

He said difficult decisions should be made and an atmosphere for investment should be created.

On Anna Hazare with whom he does not have good relations, Pawar said, "if you think I have done something wrong, file an FIR against me, drag me to court. Do you believe in our judiciary?"

Asked about his meeting with Ramdev, the Union Minister said as a minister, he should meet chiefs of social organisations and the yoga guru had sought appointment with him.

"But I did not agree with his opinion that FDI is blackmoney. I agreed with Ramdev that we need a rational approach for changing the tax regime. If the blackmoney is brought back, it can be used to solve problems of poor farmers and Dalits," he said.
Pawar dares Team Anna
Hitting back at Team Anna for levelling corruption charges against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and 14 other cabinet ministers, including himself, NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday challenged it to prosecute him.

"File an FIR against Sharad Pawar... prosecute me. You believe in the judicial system, no? Then drag me to court," Pawar said in an interview.

On Team Anna's demand for a probe into the charges against the ministers by a Special Investigative Team comprising three retired judges, Pawar said having a probe committee will cause delay. "File an FIR against me," he said.

The decision on wheat import, which Team Anna is alluding to, was taken by the cabinet, Pawar said. The cabinet felt that as it was a question of foodgrains, it should be purchased irrespective of the price prevailing then, he said.

"It is unfortunate that allegations are being made against a good person like the Prime Minister," Pawar said.

Pawar on Sangma's bid for Presidential poll

On former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma's bid for becoming the first tribal President, Pawar said "NCP is part of UPA in Parliament. If we were to decide differently, there won't be any unity".

Pawar said Sangma had informed him that the Adivasi Forum has proposed five names, which included S C Jamir, five- time chief minister of Nagaland, Kishore Chandra Deo, Tribal Affairs Minister, Kariya Munda, Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Arvind Netam, and also his name, being a former Speaker.

"Sangma says he personally doesn't want the post for himself. He says any of the five will do," Pawar said.

Maintaining that coalition era would continue at the Centre over the next decade, the NCP chief said "in the next 10 years, I don't see any signs of a single party coming to power in the country. There are alliance governments in 80 percent of the countries, he said.

Pawar on Prithviraj Chavan

To a question on the Maharashtra Chief Minister , he said Prithviraj Chavan has spent his entire life in Delhi.

He visited various places as a party in-charge. Visiting field with a responsibility is a differnt thing, he said.

On Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Pawar said one cannot aspire to lead the country if a "large community views you with suspicion". "If a community feels distrust about a person, he will be opposed," he said.

(JPN/Agencies)

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