Polls only in 2014, no threat to govt: Chidambaram



New Delhi: Government is preparing for elections in 2014 and not before, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said here on Saturday asserting that there was no threat to its stability.

The government is unperturbed over opposition plans to move motions over issues, including FDI in retail, in the coming session of Parliament as it is confident of support from all allies.

"We are not threatened. Government is completely stable. Government will complete its term. Government will hold elections in May 2014," Chidambaram told PTI.

Asked if the government apprehends any problem from restive allies like DMK, SP or BSP, he said, "no".

He downplayed the announcement of the first list of candidates for Lok Sabha polls by ally SP yesterday, the senior Congress leader said, "Allies does not mean......They are independent political parties."

When told that SP is a Congress ally and its announcement of candidates is being read as elections could be held early, Chidambaram said, "that does not mean that elections are round the corner. That means parties are preparing well in advance for the May 2014 elections."

In this context, he noted that Congress has also announced a Coordination Committee under Rahul Gandhi and three sub-groups to prepare for elections to be held in 2014.

"That does not mean that elections are round the corner," he said, adding "like any other political party, my party also expects to return to government." On comments by CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury that the Congress could be planning early elections to cut its losses, Chidambaram quipped, "Yechury may want to cut his losses. We are not planning elections any time before May 2014."

He was asked how the government plans to deal with the opposition motions on FDI in Parliament, including those under rules which entail voting, during the Winter Session beginning on November 22.

"I don't know under what rule a motion is moved. We have made a statement that we are prepared for a discussion. Under which rule or on what date, these are matters on which the Speaker and BAC will decide. We are prepared for a discussion. Parliament can discuss anything," the Finance Minister said.

Asked whether an executive decision of the government can be voted upon in Parliament, he said, "I don't know the answer to that question. All I know is that Parliament can discuss anything whether it can do it under this rule or whether it cannot do under that rule I do not know."

At the same time, he expressed the hope that Parliament will be allowed to function smoothly and appealed to all parties to understand the "difficult times" faced by the economy and work with the government.

"Parties come, parties go. Economy of the country is above all parties," Chidambaram said. Citing the concession speech of Mitt Romney and the victory speech of US President Barack Obama who both put economy of the country above everything, he sought bipartisan approach on such issues within India also.

"We must get the engine of growth restarted and that requires bipartisan support," he emphasised.

When questioned about the Congress forming committee to look at the issue of pre-poll alliances and whether it suggests that the party is desperate for allies, Chidambaram said the panel has been set up to "explore" any such possibility and the need for it.

"Let us do a reality check. The reality is that there are many many political parties especially at the state level. Alliances are inevitable. If you do not have a pre-poll alliance, you end up with a post-poll alliance.

"In fact, there is hardly any government in India today, except may be one or two which are not coalition governments. Therefore, a committee to explore pre-poll alliances is an acknowledgement of the political reality."

At the same time, he added that it did not mean pre-poll alliances will be formed.

"We may be able to form pre-poll alliance in one state. We may not be able to form pre-poll alliance in another state. We may need pre-poll alliance in one state, we may not need pre-poll alliance in another state. Therefore a Committee to explore pre-poll alliances is an acknowedgement of the political reality facing every political party," the senior Congress leader said.

PTI