Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today praised NCP leader Sharad Pawar saying he was “equal partner” in ushering in economic reforms in the country.Singh, who is considered the architect of the economic liberalisation measures unleashed in 1991 under the P V Narasimha Rao government, also termed Pawar as the “most creative agriculture minister” he had ever seen.The senior Congress leader was speaking here at the release of Pawar’s biography ‘Padma Vibhushan Sharad Pawar: The Great Enigma’ written by Sheshrao Chauhan.“Sharad Pawar had always been striving for the welfare of the nation and he was equal partner with me in bringing in economic reforms in the country,” he said.“Pawar is a Maharashtrian, but he is known across the country for his handling of crises. During his tenure as the Maharashtra chief minister, he had skillfully handled the situation after the 1993 Mumbai blasts, post-Babri mosque demolition riots and the Latur earthquake.“Very few politicians care for industrial development, and Pawar is one of them. His policies have brought reforms in the economic field,” he said.Singh recalled that when he was the finance minister and Pawar was the defence minister, he had urged the latter to help him in the austerity measures. “Pawar cut down the defence budget by Rs 500 crore. This paved way for other cabinet colleagues and they too assisted in the noble cause,” he said.“Pawar is the most creative agriculture minister I have ever seen,” Singh said adding, “I take his guidance during times of crises and a larger part of the credit for the success of UPA I and II governments goes to him.”During his speech, Pawar lauded Manmohan Singh for his style of functioning as the PM.“There are very few leaders of Manmohan Singh’s calibre and his work is endorsed by the international community,” he said.