On Friday, hours before he drove out of Parliament building as the Prime Minister for one last time, Manmohan Singh had said a group of IAS probationers: "These are exciting times to be living in India."
It may be a pure coincidence that Singh, often accused by political opponents of remaining silent, delivered two official speeches on Friday. First one: at his residential office to the young civil servants. The second was his last speech in Lok Sabha.
"In Parliament, there are bound to be differences but there should also be a path of reconciliation," Singh remarked in the Lower House that had witnessed unprecedented ruckus last week. The PM who suffered a particularly hostile Opposition also hoped that the upcoming election will "give birth to a new atmosphere."Amid the overall farewell to the 15th Lok Sabha, the low-key presence of a surprise guest, Prime Minister's wife Gursharan Kaur, in Lok Sabha gallery also added to the undercurrent of emotions. An old family friend accompanied Kaur.
Singh came to Rajya Sabha in 1991 and remains a MP from Assam. His term as MP will end in June 2018.
"As a very diligent parliamentarian he thoroughly prepared for all speeches and questions. He chose to speak extempore on anti-Sikh riots and farm loan waiver. Otherwise, he would dictate me detailed points to prepare the draft speech," the PM's former media advisor Sanjaya Baru said. Union minister Jairam Ramesh feels Singh "had a quiet dignity as a parliamentarian."
According to sources, the day started in a usual fashion for Singh who arrived straight to Parliament from home and attended a morning meeting of the Congress Core Group. There, Singh pushed for the passage of the whistleblowers bill (the bill was eventually passed).
"He went back home for lunch along with his wife but returned for the Lok Sabha's concluding session," an official said.
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