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Sonia hosts farewell dinner for PM

Sonia hosts farewell dinner for PM
Highlights

New Delhi: Sonia Hosts Farewell Dinner for PM, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was on Wednesday night lavishly praised at a farewell dinner hosted by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi who skipped it, raising political eyebrows.

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was on Wednesday night lavishly praised at a farewell dinner hosted by Congress President Sonia Gandhi and attended by a galaxy of party leaders except Rahul Gandhi who skipped it, raising political eyebrows.

New Delhi: Sonia Hosts Farewell Dinner for PM

The function at 10, Janpath, Sonia's residence, was held as a mark of gratitude by the party whose coalition government 81-year-old Singh led for 10 long years. A memento was presented to Singh with signatures of top Congress leaders and Union ministers and Pallam Raju read out the dedication inscribed on it in praise and honour of the Prime Minister.

Both Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur were presented with bouquets and party leaders were seen scrambling for a photograph with the couple and Sonia Gandhi. The only sour note was the absence of Rahul at the dinner. PMO sources late tonight said that Rahul met the Prime Minister on Saturday to say that he won't be in town and had already thanked him.

There was speculation that Rahul was probably travelling abroad and would be back before counting of votes for the Lok Sabha polls begins on Friday. When asked why Rahul had not attended the dinner, Union Minister Kamal Nath said that he was not aware of the reason. "I do not know why he did not attend," he said.

Another minister R P N Singh when asked about questions raised over Rahul's absence said, "It is unfortunate that politics is being done over it." The Oxford and Cambridge-educated Manmohan Singh has been prime minister since May 2004 when Sonia Gandhi hand-picked him for the job.

The two top Congress leaders have worked in a unique relationship with Sonia Gandhi heading the party and Manmohan Singh heading the government. Sonia Gandhi is credited with driving the social agenda of the government. The dinner was held two days before votes polled in the Lok Sabha election are counted May 16. The prime minister will submit his resignation to President Pranab Mukherjee May 17.

Manmohan Singh, who became India's 14th prime minister and the first technocrat to rule the country, will continue to be a member of the Rajya Sabha after he demits office. The 81-year old prime minister had Jan 3 addressed his final press conference and announced his retirement after a decade at the helm of two successive UPA governments

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