With elections less than a month away, Manmohan Singh, India's 14th prime minister and the first technocrat to rule the country, is winding up his term but is involved in "too much work" even as a lame-duck prime minister, officials closely working with him said.
Though the number of official events have come down drastically after the model code of conduct came in place following the poll panel announcement of the nine-phase general elections, beginning April 7, officials in the know told IANS that the work of the prime minister has, however, "become too much".
"His work has become too much. It is an 11-hour day for him," a senior official in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) told IANS.
"The prime minister begins his day at 9.30 a.m., has official meetings till lunch and then again works from 4 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.," the official, on condition of anonymity said. He added: "The prime minister is the head of many official committees whose meetings are being held regularly even now."
The work of these committees though does not involve taking policy decisions. Some examples of these committees are the Gandhi Samriti and the Jawaharlal Nehru 125th birth anniversary celebrations committee. In fact, the last persons to meet the prime minister after a day's work are the National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and communications advisor Pankaj Pachauri.
Asserting that many people hopeful of getting Lok Sabha nominations were also thronging his residence, another senior official said as of now Manmohan Singh has got requests from eight places to campaign for the coming Lok Sabha polls.
"Requests have come from states of Kartanaka, Assam, Haryana and Rajasthan. He will begin campaigning once the process of ticket distribution is over," the official said.
The Oxford and Cambridge-educated Manmohan Singh has been prime minister since May 2004 when Congress President Sonia Gandhi hand-picked him for the job. The 81-year old prime minister has already declared that he will step down after the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
"In a few months' time, after the general election, I will hand the baton over to a new prime minister," Manmohan Singh announced at the Jan 4 press conference. The official, however, said the prime minister has not yet zeroed in on what he wants to do once his term is over.
Manmohan Singh joined the government as economic advisor in the commerce ministry in 1971. Among the many government positions that he has occupied are secretary in the finance ministry, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, advisor to the prime minister and chairman of the University Grants Commission. Once his term is over, he will settle down at 3 Motilal Nehru Marg, in the Lutyen's bungalow zone in the leafy centre of New Delhi, which was the residence of former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, the official said.