Dead serious about bringing to book wrongdoers: PM (Second Lead)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

NEW DELHI - The government was “dead serious” about bringing to book all wrongdoers regardless of their position, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, besieged by a series of corruption charges, said Wednesday.

Addressing the issue of corruption head on, the prime minister, whose second tenure in office has been beset by a series of financial irregularities, said it was wrong to say India is a “scam-driven” country.

He also said he never claimed that he had never made a mistake but added he was not “such a big culprit”.

“I do not say that I have never made a mistake. But the kind of propaganda being done and shown, I am not such a big culprit,” the prime minister told a press conference at his 7 Race Course Road official residence.

“I, through your medium, am promising the people of India that anybody found guilty of corruption will be severely punished,” he said.

“I wish to assure the country as a whole our government is dead serious to bring to book all the wrongdoers regardless of their position in 2G spectrum, CWG, ISRO and Adarsh (scams),” he added, taking a sweep of the many scandals confronting his government — the 2G spectrum allocation, the Commonwealth Games, the Adarsh Housing Society in Mumbai and the S-band spectrum deal between India’s space agency and a private company.

During his 70-minute interaction ahead of parliament’s budget session beginning Feb 21, the prime minister said his biggest regret were the irregularities that have come to the fore.

The second five-year term of the UPA, called UPA-II, began in 2009 and will enter its half-way mark later this year.

Making a specific reference to the alleged irregularities in projects for the October 2010 Commonwealth Games, he said “wrongdoers” (a term he used often during the meeting) would not escape.

Answering a question on whether he was disappointed over the delays in the CWG scam probe, he said the government was trying its “very best” but there was a due process of law. “Sometimes it is frustrating… it takes time.”

Manmohan Singh, who has been fighting opposition allegations of turning a blind eye to the many scams, said the projections of such scams by the media had tarnished the country’s image.

“I would like to say that in projecting these evils, an impression has gone around that we are a scam-driven country and that nothing good is happening in our country. In the process, I think we are weakening the self-confidence of the people of India. I dont think that is in the interest of anybody in our country.

We have a functioning government and whatever some people may say we are not a lame duck government and I am not a lame duck prime minister. We take our job very seriously, we are here to govern and to govern effectively, tackle the problems as they arise and get this country moving forward on a pace of development which we would do justice to the demands being made of the processes of governance, he stressed.

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