India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the failure of the civilian nuclear agreement with the U.S. will be a disappointment his government will have to cope with, insisting that “elections are still far away.''
“We are not a one-issue government,'' Singh, 75, said in New Delhi today at a conference, saying there are several reform programs that the government wants to pursue. Singh also said he hasn't “given up hope'' on the nuclear agreement.
Singh's government was faced with the risk of collapsing after Communist allies, whose support is key to parliamentary survival, opposed the nuclear accord saying it would weaken the nation's ability to follow an independent foreign policy and compromise the country's own scientific capability.
“The nuclear deal with the U.S. is a good deal but failure on the deal won't be the end of life,'' Singh said. “We will be able to reconcile'' ourselves to it.
The Communists want the agreement to be delayed until it's debated in parliament. They've also asked the government not to discuss safeguards for power plants with the International Atomic Energy Agency, one of the measures needed before the agreement can become operational.
The government will complete its term of five years, Singh said. The term ends in May 2009.
The leader of the Indian National Congress party, which heads the ruling federal coalition, also said she wasn't in favor of early elections.
The Congress party wasn't “looking for confrontation'' with the Communist parties, Sonia Gandhi said at the same conference. The Communist parties weren't being “unreasonable'' and talks were still on to build a consensus, she said.
Prime Minister Singh said the country needed to make “vast reforms'' to ensure that the benefits of economic growth were evenly distributed.
“In the past five years, our economy has grown close to 9 percent. This is unprecedented,'' Singh said. “This can be sustained into the future. However, we cannot take this for granted.''
India needs reforms in vital areas of economy, including agriculture and public works, to sustain a faster pace of economic growth, he said.
Industrial production growth accelerated for the first time in five months in August as record investment in factories, roads and power plants boosted demand for cement, steel and other manufactured products, the government said today.
Production at factories, utilities and mines jumped 10.7 percent from a year earlier after gaining a revised 7.5 percent in July, the statistics bureau said in a statement in New Delhi today. India, the fourth-biggest economy in Asia, is the world's fastest-growing major economy after China.
The prime minister acknowledged that financial industry reforms had stalled because of political resistance. He said sustained economic growth was key to reducing unemployment and eradicating poverty in the world's second most populous nation.