A galaxy of senior leaders and Ministers was present at the residence of Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday night to bid farewell to the outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Conspicuous by his absence at the gathering, however, was Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi who was “out of town”.
Congress communication chief Ajay Maken said after “three months of gruelling campaign,” Mr. Gandhi was “out of town for two days” and would be back on Thursday. He added that the party vice-president had “already met the Prime Minister on May 10 to personally thank him for his services and contributions rendered to the nation.”
The mood at 10 Janpath was understandably sombre with the exit polls predicting a punishing defeat for the UPA government. There were no speeches, party sources said, but the Prime Minister was presented with a memento with signatures of all his colleagues. His wife, Gursharan Kaur, was presented a shawl.Short film
On Wednesday, the Congress also uploaded a short film on its official website to thank Dr. Singh for his decade-long stewardship of the UPA government. It also sent out a “thank you” digital card to all those on its mailing list to sign it as a parting memento for Dr. Singh.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, party sources said, is clearly determined to protect Dr. Singh, whom she has always fiercely defended, from any sort of derision. The word is out that regardless of the election results, Dr. Singh must be praised for the achievements of the government and that responsibility for a failure of the Congress will be collective.
The film, quoting the World Bank, points out that during Dr. Singh’s tenure India catapulted from the 10th position in 2005 to become the world's third largest economy. Its per capita income increased three-fold and the average GDP growth rate was 7.7 per cent. India also became one of the world's fastest growing economies even as it remained focussed on fostering inclusive growth.
The film emphasises that Dr. Singh's policies embraced the development of infrastructure in both towns and villages, ensuring that everyone benefited from India's “phenomenal economic growth story”; that India doubled its power capacity, electrified over one lakh villages, connected lakhs in urban and rural areas through better roads and aviation hubs, all of which connected millions of people through state of the art road, rail and airport connectivity, boosted economic growth and generated lakhs of new jobs.
The film ends with “Thank you, Dr. Singh for a decade of prosperity and growth.”
The invitation to sign the digital card points out that Dr Singh’s stewardship saw India emerge as the third largest economy in the world, stresses that “the benefits of growth have reached every Indian” and that he “led India with vision and grace”.
Interestingly, “ThankyouDrManmohanSingh” was trending through the day on Twitter.
Evidently, the Congress wants to ensure that Dr. Singh is remembered more kindly than how his critics have portrayed him.