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Wasn’t afraid of speaking to press as PM, says Manmohan in dig at Modi

NEW DELHI

In an apparent dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is yet to hold a press conference, his predecessor and Congress veteran Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said as Prime Minister, “he was never afraid of speaking to the press”.

Speaking at the launch of his book “Changing India”, the former Prime Minister also asserted that India was destined to become a major economic global power.

“I was not the Prime Minister who was afraid of talking to the press. I met the press regularly, and on every foreign trip that I undertook, I had a press conference on return.

“There are large number of those press conferences which have been described in the book,” he said at the event.

A set of five volumes, “Changing India” details his life as an economist as well as his 10-year period at the helm of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime.

“People say I was a silent Prime Minister, but these volumes will speak for themselves. I don’t want to boast about my achievements as a Prime Minister, but the events that took place are well described in these volumes,” he said.

Modi has not once faced the press ever since he became the Prime Minister in 2014.

Talking about future of the country, Manmohan Singh said despite all the hiccups, India was destined to become a major global powerhouse.

“The emergence of India as a major global power is one such idea whose time has come and no power on earth can stop such an idea,” said Singh, quoting Victor Hugo, whom he had quoted as the then Finance Minister during his historic 1991 budget speech.

Asked if the farm loan waivers by the new Congress governments in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh were not bad economics, Singh said the commitments need to be fulfilled.

“Whatever it is, the commitments that have been made have to be honoured,” he said speaking with media on the sidelines of the event.

Commenting on the ongoing RBI turmoil, the former Prime Minister hoped that the government would find a way to work in “harmony” with the RBI.

“We need a strong, independent RBI which has to work in close cooperation with the central government. I hope the RBI and the government would find ways to work in harmony,” Singh said.

Earlier, he recalled how once on his advice, former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao bypassed the Cabinet decision to devalue the rupee.

“He (Rao) signed on a handwritten note which I have preserved to this day,” he said, recalling many more anecdotes in his long journey within the Union government.

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