Bengaluru: Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh wasn't just an ‘accidental prime minister’, he was also an accidental finance minister! so to speak. When Dr. Manmohan Singh received a telephone call in 1991 from newly named Congress prime minister P V Narasimha Rao that he was inducting him into his cabinet, Dr Singh had little or no inkling that he was getting the all important portfolio of finance.
In a curious coincidence, this reporter was standing right next to him in Asoka Hall at Rashtrapati Bhavan when prime minister Rao called out his name and his portfolio. The shock on Dr Singh's face, as he gasped and then walked towards the podium breaking into his trademark shy smile was there for all to see as every dignitary in the room turned around to see who the new man at the helm would be.
Almost 27 years later, the former two term prime minister admits he did not know that he would be Prime minister Rao's pointman on turning the economy around when it faced its biggest crisis. " I was then Chairman of the University Grants commission (UGC, ) and expected a position more in line with that, not the Finance Minister of the country, " said the ever modest former prime minister, the architect of India's second coming when he became prime minister in 2004.
Speaking at an informal interaction here in the city, he was equally forthcoming on the episode that has become the talking point of the soon to be released movie based on his media adviser Sanjaya Baru's book, The Accidental Prime minister. Describing the episode drawn from former president Abdul Kalam's memoirs where then President Abdul Kalam is reported to have demurred over clearing Sonia Gandhis name for prime minister as "not completely accurate," Dr Singh said then president Kalam cleared the new file when it was presented to him with his name on it.
Dr Kalam memoirs run contrary to BJP Subramaian Swamy's claims that Kalam had difficulty clearing Sonia Gandhis name for prime minister in 2004. In fact, Kalam states that all the paperwork had been done to name Ms Gandhi as prime minister, but she later changed her mind and put forward Dr Singh's name instead. Dr Singh meanwhile when asked whether the Indian economy would slide further after the mishandling of the economy by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said “I believe in India's destiny. In its infinite ability to rise. Of that I am certain.”
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