Praises him for his contribution to economic reforms

President Pranab Mukherjee seldom deviates from the book, but on Saturday night, hosting a farewell dinner for outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he chose to depart from tradition and made an emotional speech.

Mr. Mukherjee, who had a long stint in the UPA government, holding several key portfolios, praised the economist-Prime Minister for his contribution to economic reforms in the country.

The President began his speech by saying that while it was not customary to speak on such an occasion, he would make an “exception” for his old colleague with whom he had worked for over four decades. He recalled that his long association with Dr. Singh began in 1974, when he joined the Union Ministry of Finance as a junior Minister.

In a display of camaraderie and respect for his contemporary, Mr. Mukherjee said the 1990s marked a new phase when India broke out of the “Hindu growth rate” with Dr. Singh at the helm of the Reserve Bank of India.

The President told Dr. Singh that he would be remembered for his contribution to economic reforms and for the mark he left behind. On a personal level, Mr. Mukherjee said he felt fortunate to have had the “advice and support” of Dr. Singh in discharging responsibilities over the years. He hoped that the former Prime Minister would continue to serve the nation.

An emotional Dr. Singh began his speech by saying: “Forgive me if I become emotional on this occasion.” As the guests listened attentively, he went on to recall his “long association” with the President.

He said the economic reforms would not have been possible without the support of Mr. Mukherjee, who was his “valued” colleague in the government. Dr. Singh said the President’s contribution had been of lasting value and his “wisdom, knowledge and experience” were great national assets.

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