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Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Tuesday wrote a letter to former prime minister Manmohan Singh saying that his retirement marked the “end of an era”. The former prime minister and Congress veteran retired from Rajya Sabha today, completing his 33-year-old parliamentary innings. In October 1991, the former prime minister became a member of the parliament for the first time. He was appointed finance minister in the Narasimha Rao government from 1991 to 1996. Later he became the prime minister of the country from 2004 to 2014.

Taking to microblogging site X (formerly known as Twitter) the Congress chief credited Singh for the MGNREGA scheme, adding that the nation and particularly the rural poor will always remember the former prime minister for ensuring that they can earn a living and live with self-respect through this scheme.

“I remember President Obama mentioning about you that Whenever the Indian Prime Minister speaks, the whole world listens to him,” Kharge said in the post.

Here is the full text of the Congress chief’s letter to former prime minister Manmohan Singh as he retires from Rajya Sabha today.

As you retire today from the Rajya Sabha after having served for more than three decades, an era comes to an end. Very few people can say they have served our nation with more dedication and more devotion than you. Very few people have accomplished as much as you for the nation and its people.

Personally, it has been a privilege for me to have been a part of your cabinet. Over the last 10 years, while I have been the leader of the Congress Party in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, you have always been a source of wisdom and someone whose advise I valued. Over the last few years, you have made it a point to be available for the Congress party despite personal inconveniences. For this, the party and I will always remain grateful.

You have shown that it is possible to pursue economic policies that were equally beneficial to large industries, young entrepreneurs, small businesses, the salaried class and the poor. It was you who showed that even the poor can participate in the nation’s growth and be lifted out of poverty. Thanks to your policies, India was able to lift 27 crore people, the highest number of poor people out of poverty in the world while you were the Prime Minister. The MGNREGA scheme launched under your government continues to provide relief to the rural workers during times of crisis. The nation and particularly the rural poor will always remember you for ensuring that they can earn a living and live with self-respect through this scheme.

The patriotic legacy of the Congress party and its spirit of sacrifice was ably demonstrated by you when you decided to pursue the Indo-US Nuclear Deal even if it meant putting your government at risk for the sake of the nation’s security. This was a historic moment when you led India to take her rightful place in the world and you showed your strength as an uncompromising negotiator. The respect and regard that the Presidents of United States and other world leaders had for you made this possible. Their respect for you further increased during the Global Financial Crisis. I remember President Obama mentioning about you that “Whenever the Indian Prime Minister speaks, the whole world listens to him.” These are only few instances that I am mentioning out of your many contributions to the nation.

We live in times that are largely shaped by you. The economic prosperity and stability that we enjoy today is built on the foundations laid by you along with our former Prime Minister, Bharat Ratna, Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao. The current set of leaders who have reaped the benefits of your work are reluctant to credit you due to political biases.

In fact, they seem to go out of their way to speak ill about you and make personal attacks against you. However, we also know that you are large hearted enough not to hold that against anyone.

Whatever little reforms done by the current government has its seeds in the work initiated in the UPA government headed by you. The work initiated by your government to ensure direct transfer of benefits to individual beneficiaries by creating zero balance accounts, unique identification of the beneficiary through Aadhaar was hijacked by the succeeding government without giving you credit. In some cases, the good work initiated by you seems to be slowly undone. The difficult work of deregulation of petrol and diesel prices done by you seems to have been completely undone by the current government. The current government is levying high taxes on the common man, while oil companies are enjoying the benefits of low oil prices. Yet another area where the government has regressed is in the increasing economic inequality and growing number of people who are forced to seek subsistence from the government.

The nation misses the quiet yet strong dignity that you brought to the office of the Prime Minister. The Parliament will now miss your wisdom and experience. Your dignified, measured, soft-spoken yet statesman like words are in contrast to the loud voices filled with lies that signify the current politics. The current political situation is such that unscrupulousness is being equated with astute leadership. I still recall your speech on demonetisation which you termed as “monumental management failure” and “an organised loot and legalised plunder”, which has proved to be grim reality. You showed it is possible to criticise without getting personal. The nation and the people will soon see through the lies of the current government. Just like how the sun and the moon can never be hidden, the truth can also never be hidden. People will realise the import of your words soon.

You will always remain a hero to the middle class and the aspirational youth, a leader and guide to the industrialists and entrepreneurs, and a benefactor to all those poor who were able to climb out of poverty due to your economic policies.

Even as you retire from active politics, I hope that you will continue to be the voice of wisdom and moral compass to the nation by speaking to the citizens of our country as often as possible. I wish you peace, health and happiness.”

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Published: 02 Apr 2024, 10:10 PM IST

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