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Use time wisely: PM to Opposition

PM says being in opposition is always a good thing for politicians, reports Aloke Tikku and Gaurav Choudhury.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2007 23:09 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh thinks opposition leaders need to make better use of their time. Learn from Chidambaram, he told them on Monday.

Singh’s advice came at a function to release a compilation of essays by P Chidambaram published in the Indian Express and Financial Express when he was in the Opposition, A view from the outside: Why good economics works for everyone.
 
Chidambaram said A view from the outside, published by Penguin Books, allowed people to ask: "what did you say then and what are you doing now?" But, he acknowledged, the "view from inside (written when in the government) would be even more interesting." And the view from inside would be the "quicker the political consensus on major issues, the better it is for the country".

"I think those who are now in opposition should learn from the way Chidambaram handled spare time on his hands and make better use of their time," Singh told the gathering at a simple function at his official residence.

Former foreign minister Jaswant Singh has written two books; the first one – A call to honour – landed him in an unsavoury controversy over his allegations of a mole in a previous Congress government.

The prime minister made no reference to Jaswant Singh’s book but he did seem to be taking a jibe at the opposition leader. Manmohan Singh wondered in the same breath if the opposition leaders would be able to do as good a job as Chidambaram. "Though I am not sure how may of them can write as well as Shri Chidambaram does, and write so intelligently. Few can match his knowledge, wisdom, experience, humour and the ease of expression."

Singh said being in Opposition was good for all politicians; it was a humbling experience and also a time to reflect on the policies practiced when one is in power.

"While not all politicians put the spare time to good use, this book tells us that Chidambaram certainly did so. It is clear that during the period he was out of government, he had the time to reflect on issues of social and national concern," he said, describing Chidambaram as "one of the hardest working and most intellectually alive persons of the day."