Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hosted a farewell high tea for senior officials at his home and received an emotional goodbye from his 110-odd staff members at his office in South Block on Tuesday.
An aide said he was unlikely to return to South Block before he handed over the baton to his successor. “I am very thankful to you all for your service. May God bless you,” he told the staff members who lined the corridors of the PMO. He greeted all of them as he walked the entire length of the corridor.
“Everybody felt that despite all the things that had been said about him, here is someone who is essentially a good person,” said one official who was present.
At the high tea, he thanked each official individually. All that people could talk about after the party was the humility of the Prime Minister, the official said.
The fare at the high tea was in keeping with the simplicity that Dr. Singh is known to have brought to the office: dhoklas, idlis, rasgullas and cake.
On Wednesday, Congress president Sonia Gandhi will host a dinner in honour of Dr. Singh at her residence. He will be presented with a memento carrying a message and signatures of those invited for the occasion, members of the Congress Working Committee and the Union Council of Ministers, party sources said.
Official sources said the Cabinet might have a final meeting on May 17, before the Prime Minister submitted his resignation. He will make a farewell address to the nation the same day.
Meanwhile, Ms. Gandhi called on President Pranab Mukherjee. Coming three days before the election results are to be announced, the meeting assumed political significance.
Even as the BJP said the Congress would make Dr. Singh the scapegoat if the party did badly in the elections, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi placed on record the party’s “deep appreciation for the last 10 years of UPA-I and UPA-II under the able stewardship of Dr. Manmohan Singh.”