New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said that Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi's entry into the Cabinet will be a welcome development. "When it happens you all will know. I have always maintained that I welcome Rahul's entry into the Cabinet."
Singh made the remark at the Rashtrapati Bhawan where he had gone to attend the swearing in ceremony of Hamid Ansari as Vice President.
Congress lawmakers and leaders have long been demanding a Cabinet post for the Gandhi scion, although Rahul himself has shied away from all the hype surrounding it.
In June, amidst expectations of a Cabinet reshuffle post Pranab Mukherjee's resignation as Finance Minister to contest the Presidential poll, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna had strongly pitched for Rahul's entry into the government, saying it was "necessary" to help in solving the problems faced by the country.
Krishna noted that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had already asked Rahul to join the government and that his "invitation" still stood.
"We have always wanted Rahul Gandhi's involvement in the government. The Prime Minister's invitation is there to join the government but he himself seems to be not inclined at the moment," the Minister had said at an interaction with journalists.
He was asked whether he thought Rahul, 42, should be made a minister.
"I am one of those who feel that it is necessary for Rahul Gandhi to come into the government and help the government in solving the problems that we face as a country," Krishna had said.
Moody's downgrade a cause for concern: PM
Speaking about the Indian economy, Singh said that Moody's downgrade was a cause for concern, albeit adding that one should not draw unwarranted conclusions from it.
"Moody's downgrade is a cause for concern. But we should not draw unwarranted conclusions. The fundamentals of the Indian economy are sound," he said.
"India's investments and savings were still the highest in the world.
"This year I am hopeful that we will do better than the growth performance of 6.5 per cent of last year," he added.
The main Opposition BJP, however, chose to disagree. Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said that the environment for investments in India was not good.
"The PM has said that India's economic fundamentals are strong... But this is not true... The environment for investment is not good. It is not just the foreign investors, even the domestic investor is looking abroad for better prospects."
He added that it was still not late for the government to react to the economic downturn.
"It is a wake up call for the government," he said.
On Thursday, Moody's had cut India's growth forecast to 5.5 per cent for the current year, citing a lack of government or central bank action despite a broad-based slowdown, as well as a poor monsoon.
"Indian economy is expected to grow at 5.5 per cent this year as turbulent global conditions, domestic policy mis-steps and poor monsoon are weighing on investor confidence and demand," Moody's Analytics has said.
"India's GDP growth rate is likely to be 5.5 per cent this year, while in 2013 growth is expected to be 6 per cent, adjusted from 6.2 per cent earlier," it added.
"There has been little policy response from either the Reserve Bank of India or the government and with global uncertainty dragging on, we see nothing on the horizon to lift the economy from its funk," Moody's Analytics Senior Economist Glenn Levine said.
(With inputs from PTI)