New Delhi: In a veiled attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for calling him a “silent prime minister”, his predecessor and senior Congress leader Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said that he was never afraid of talking to the media and rather interacted with the press very regularly. Also Read - Reassess COVID Situation, Focus on Micro Containment Zones: PM Modi to CMs of 7 Worst-hit States
Speaking at the launch of his 6-volume book series called ‘Changing India’, Singh said, “I certainly would like to say that I was not the prime minister who was afraid of talking to the press. I met the press regularly and on every foreign trip that I undertook, I had a press conference in the plane or immediately after the landing. There are large number of press conferences whose results are also described”. Also Read - Shaheen Bagh's 82-Year-Old Bilkis Named in Time Magazine's List of 100 Most Influential People
Singh’s remarks came in wake of PM Modi accusing him of remaining silent on contentious issues. His jibe at the former also comes after Congress chief Rahul Gandhi criticising PM Modi for not addressing a single press conference ever since he came to power in 2014. Rahul had recently the prime minister to “try one someday, because it’s fun having questions thrown at you”. Also Read - PM Modi to Hold High-level Meeting With CMs of 7 States/UTs Today | What to Expect
He also revealed that he was not only an “accidental prime minister” but also an “accidental finance minister” of the country as the post was denied by I G Patel, the former RBI Governor and his immediate predecessor in the RBI.
Singh was made the finance minister in 1991 by the then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao, who is credited for changing the course of the Indian economy and bringing in market liberalisation.
Singh said he did not believe P C Alexander when the latter told him that the then Prime Minister Rao wanted him to take over as the finance minister in 1991 to steer the crisis-ridden Indian economy.
“I was then chairman of the University Grant Commission, and as usual went to office next day. Somehow Narasimha found me and asked if he has received communication from Alexander,” Singh recalled.
To Rao’s response, Manmohan Singh said, “I did not take him seriously.”
Rao asked him to get dressed and appear for the swearing-in for the Cabinet minister, he said while narrating the episode of his journey to the finance ministry.
The former PM also said that the relationship between the government and the RBI is like that of “husband-wife” and the difference of opinions must be resolved in a manner that the two institutions work in harmony.
The comments came against the backdrop of Urjit Patel resigning as RBI Governor earlier this month amid a tussle between the central bank and the finance ministry on matters ranging from the appropriate size of reserves the central bank must hold to the easing of lending norms for sectors such as small and medium enterprises.