On Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Last Day at Work, a Cabinet Meeting, Many Farewells

On Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Last Day at Work, a Cabinet Meeting, Many Farewells

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh thanking his staff on his last day at work

New Delhi:  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will chair a cabinet meeting, meet his staff and attend elaborate farewells on his last day at work today as he prepares to demit office on Saturday, a day after the results of the general election are announced.

To his staff at South Block, his office of 10 years, Dr Singh said, "You served the nation well. God bless you."

Later, he will chair his last cabinet meeting, in which the government is expected to clear Foreign Direct Investment in the pharma sector. He is also expected to sign off on the new Army Chief, likely to be announced today despite objections from the BJP.

Dr Singh, 81, had announced earlier this year that he would not seek a third term should the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) secure a third successive win.

Exit polls after voting ended yesterday for the staggered nine-phase elections showed that the BJP and its allies, led by Narendra Modi, are set for a parliamentary majority. (Narendra Modi on Course for Election Victory, Exit Polls Show)

The prime minister, sources say, has been preparing for his exit for weeks. "His predecessor, Atal Behari Vajpayee, never got the time for long farewells as the BJP had not expected to lose in 2004," said an aide.

Later today, Dr Singh will host a farewell for his officers at his residence, 7, Race Course Road, a sprawling bungalow complex that he will vacate on Thursday, a day before the results.

Tomorrow, Congress president Sonia Gandhi will host a farewell dinner for him, where, sources say, he will be gifted a memento signed by all members of the Congress Working Committee, the party's top decision-making body, and union ministers. (Read more...)

Despite quitting office, Manmohan Singh, India's 13th prime minister and the first technocrat to rule the country, will still be visible in public life as a Rajya Sabha member.

His low profile in the Congress' national election campaign has provoked many opposition barbs.

In a blog today, BJP leader Arun Jaitley described him as a man whose personal integrity was always above board, but whose, "inability to speak up within his own party may compel historians to take a different view."

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