Zee Media Bureau/Himanshu Kapoor
New Delhi: Two days before the announcement of results of Lok Sabha elections, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday night hosted a farewell dinner for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. A momento, signed by all members of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and Union Ministers, was also presented to Dr Singh by Sonia.
Several top party leaders, including P Chidambabaram, Sushilkumar Shinde, Salman Khurshid, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Ajay Maken, were present for the dinner at 10 Janpath in Delhi. The dedication inscribed on the momento in praise and honour of the prime minister was read out by the Union ministers.
However, absence of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi`s from the send-off dinner raised many political eyebrows.
Yesterday, which was also Singh`s last day at work, the prime minister was greeted by a standing ovation and emotional farewells as he prepares to demit office on Saturday, a day after the national election verdict. To his staff at South Block, his office of 10 years, Dr Singh said, "You served the nation well. God bless you."
Dr Singh, 81, had announced earlier this year that he would not seek a third term even if the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance won this time.
Congress leaders had always spoken of the relationship between the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi as an ideal division of labour, which saw perfect harmonisation between the government and the party.
AICC has always maintained that there cannot be any better relationship between a party president and a Prime Minister and had often dismissed as "rumours and disinformation" reports of differences between the two.
Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi`s office issued a statement saying that he had told the PM on Saturday that he will be out of town on the day of send-off dinner. Congress MP Ajay Maken also said that Rahul had met Manmohan on Saturday before skipping the dinner hosted for the PM at 10 Janpath.