PM still bullish on Mamata; says no chance of stagflation

Singh says country has sufficient grain for any calamity

Notwithstanding West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s refusal to accept Pranab Mukherjee as Congress’ presidential candidate, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said he had still not given up hopes on the mercurial Bengal leader.

“The Trinamool Congress is still a part of the UPA government. I still have not given up hope that the TMC will find its way to support the candidature of Pranab Mukherjee,” Singh said onboard while returning from his eight-day trip from Los Cabos and Rio de Janeiro.

Asked if a cabinet reshuffle is expected after the presidential election, he said it was a “legitimate expectation.” The Prime Minister’s comment is a clear signal that instead of holding on to the finance portfolio, he would find out a full time minister to replace Mukherjee.

Besides finding out a successor to Mukherjee, the Cabinet rejig may also witness the entry of the Samajwadi Party in the Cabinet and TMC losing its importance on the high table. It is not clear whether the TMC ministers will continue to be in the cabinet.

The Prime Minister did not name replacement of Mukherjee both in the North Block as well as Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha. “I have been churning it in my mind. It will not be proper for me comment on domestic issues on flight,” he said.

Flagging his expectations from states including those ruled by opposition parties and West Bengal led by Banerjee, who singlehandedly blocked many proposals on economic reforms, Singh said the Centre and states must work together to get the country moving again on high growth path achieved till 2011-12.

Allaying apprehensions on India’s poor economic health, Singh said there was no question of stagflation and growth rate would improve to about 7 per cent in the rest of the year.

Though last year’s annual growth was 6.5 per cent, it plummeted to 5.3 per cent in the last quarter of 2011-12.

On 26 per cent deficient monsoon, Singh said the country have sufficient foodgrain stock to tackle drought-like conditions.  “We are well prepared to deal with any contingency. If there is a shortfall, that will not affect the availability of foodgrain. We have record amount of food stock, far in excess of our need. If there is a semi-drought situation, we are well equipped to meet that challenge,” he added.

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