Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has taken a dig at his successor Narendra Modi for avoiding media all throughout his tenure since assuming the office in May 2014. Speaking at the launch of his 6 volume book series called ‘Changing India,’ Singh said that he was never afraid of speaking to journalists.
He said, “I certainly would like to say that 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 in the plane or immediately after the landing. There are large number of press conferences whose results are also described.”
Dr Singh said that not only was he an accidental prime minister, but he was also an accidental finance minister in 1991, when the then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao inducted him in his cabinet to manage the finance portfolio. He said that his appointment was refused by IG Patel, the former RBI Governor. It was only after Patel declined Rao’s offer, he said, that he was given the ministry.
Singh is credited with starting what’s known as the economic liberalisation in India.
Singh said he did not believe P C Alexander when the latter told him that the then Prime Minister Rao wanted him to take over as the finance minister in 1991 to steer the crisis-ridden Indian economy.
“I was then chairman of the University Grant Commission, and as usual went to office next day. Somehow Narasimha found me and asked if he has received communication from Alexander,” Singh was quoted by news agency PTI.
To Rao’s response, Manmohan Singh said, “I did not take him seriously.”
PM Modi has often faced flak from the Congress for not entertaining two conversations with the media. Not too long ago, Congress President Rahul Gandhi had challenged him to do a presser conference. Gandhi had said, “Dear Mr Modi, Now that campaigning is over, hope you can spare some time for your part-time job as PM. Btw its been 1,654 days since u became PM. Still no press conference? Some pics from our Hyderabad PC today. Try one someday, it’s fun having questions thrown at you!.”