I do not think in terms of Sikh, non-Sikh: PM

May 15, 2009 Source: www.samaylive.com

Ludhiana: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here Monday that he represented the entire country and did not think "in terms of Sikh or non-Sikh".

The first prime minister from the Sikh minority community was reacting to a query about the Congress garnering votes on the platform of having raised a Sikh to the top executive post even as it labelled the politics of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) as communal.

"I sincerely believe that religion should not be brought into political matters. I have not authorised anybody to use my name," Manmohan Singh told reporters in this industrial city of Punjab.

The prime minister had earlier been criticised by the state's ruling Akali Dal-BJP combine for not doing anything for the Sikhs in Pakistan, who were fleeing from the Taliban, despite belonging to the same community.

Manmohan Singh asserted that he was "an Indian first".

"I am prime minister of India. I represent all sections of Indian people. Therefore, I do not think in terms of Sikh or non-Sikh," he said.

He said that his government had raised the issue of the status of Sikhs in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, where Taliban had imposed Jaziya tax on non-Muslims.

"We had raised our concern with the Pakistan government that this is not appropriate," he said.

On another question, the prime minister admitted that while his government had raised the matter of Sikhs wearing turbans in France, it had not been able to change the French government's stance on the matter of wearing religious symbols in public.

"But we will keep on trying (to convince them)," he added.

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