The event, which was held at 10 Janpath, was attended by a galaxy of party leaders and Union ministers and was held as a mark of gratitude by the party whose coalition government the 81-year-old Singh led for 10 long years.
Following the uproar on social media, the Congress tried to control the damage by saying Rahul had met the PM earlier on Saturday and had thanked him for his leadership. He is said to have told the PM that he will not be attending the dinner since he had other engagements.
While ABP News said Rahul Gandhi was out of the country, the Congress maintained that he is out of town for 2 days. The Congress scion’s decision not to cancel his engagements came in for censure on social media.
Meanwhile at the dinner, Singh was presented a memento which had signatures of top Congress leaders and Union ministers. Pallam Raju read out the dedication inscribed on it in praise and honour of the prime minister.
Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur were presented bouquets and party leaders were seen scrambling for a photograph with the couple and Sonia Gandhi. The economist-turned-politician had announced his retirement some time back saying he would not run for a third term. The party had only on Tuesday hailed Singh’s able stewardship of the government, underlining how he had led the country through difficult times.
“Singh’s experienced and seasoned stewardship, his personal integrity and ability to lead the country through difficult times is noteworthy and India is proud to have earned so many laurels and respect during the 10 years,” AICC had said on Tuesday.
Party leaders, including Sonia Gandhi, have often expressed their appreciation of Singh during the UPA-I and UPA-II governments for having carved out a trajectory of clear inclusive growth, stability and social harmony in the country.
Singh would be demitting office on May 17, a day after the Lok Sabha election results are announced. He had assumed office on May 22, 2009, for his second consecutive term as prime minister and already holds the distinction of being the third-longest serving head of the Union government after Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.
former RBI Governor, Singh — who is often described as the architect of India’s economic reforms — entered politics in 1991 when he was made Finance Minister by the then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao.