New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday disagreed with those in the Congress who were dismissive of the challenge posed by Narendra Modi but asserted that the party would approach the 2014 Lok Sabha polls with self- confidence, irrespective of the results of the just concluded elections in five states.
"As it is an organised party, we cannot underestimate the power of opposition to unsettle the ship of the state. Therefore, I am one of those who take very seriously our opponents. There is no room for complacency," he said.
The Prime Minister was answering questions after delivering the keynote address at the 11th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit here.
Earlier in his address, Singh also criticised those who try to accuse the entire political class of being corrupt and spread cynicism.
"Over the past two years, some well meaning and concerned citizens tried to spread cynicism by accusing the entire political class of being corrupt and anti-people. Many began to suggest that democracy had not served India well. They attacked the institution of Parliament by refusing to respect Parliament's judgment," he said while asking the people to look at the "big picture".
Exit polls have predicted rout for Congress in the assembly polls to Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh when counting of votes takes place on Sunday. Counting of votes for Mizoram will also take place the same day.
Notwithstanding the poll projections, the Prime Minister said, "Congress party is going to the elections with the spirit of self-confidence and that should not be mistaken whatever may be the outcome of the provincial elections."
He was asked about different views among his cabinet colleagues, one of whom has stated that the challenge posed by Modi should be taken seriously while another has dismissed the challenge posed by BJP's prime ministerial candidate.
The Prime Minister rejected a poser that the Communal Violence Bill is a vote-catching gimmick and said the government's effort is to ensure that if riots can't be prevented, there should be adequate compensation for the victims.
"It is not a vote-catching gimmick.....What happened in Muzaffarnagar and some other parts of our country is a reminder that although as a country, we can take pride in our ability to protect all the people, yet there are times when aberrations take place," he said.
"This bill, if it is passed by Parliament, will help to control those aberrations," he added.
Singh noted that in the last five or six years, the country has been been grappling with the problem of communal riots in some part or the other.
"And our effort has been to create an environment where officers would have the responsibility to look after the law and order situation as effectively as is humanly possible.
"Plus also if riots cannot be prevented, there should be adequate compensation for the victims of the riots. These are two basic principles, which underlines what is the purpose of the communal violence bill. I think it is a bill, whose time has come," the Prime Minister said.
His remarks came amid Centre's move to drop several provisions to ensure that the legislation is neutral between communities and address concerns of states who complained that their powers are being encroached upon.
Singh had on Thursday said that government will try to evolve a broad- based consensus on issues which are of "great" legislative importance on a day when Modi dubbed the bill as a "recipe for disaster".
Seeking to dispel apprehensions of the economy going downhill, the Prime Minister said, "Through all the ups and down in the face of global challenges and despite the burden of past policy mistakes, our economy is on a rising growth trajectory".