New Delhi: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday hit out at the current incumbent PM Narendra Modi for the ‘silent PM’ criticism, saying that he wasn’t the one afraid of talking to the press and rather interacted with them very regularly.
"People say I was a silent Prime Minister. I think these volumes (his book 'Changing India') speak for themselves. I wasn't the PM who was afraid of talking to the press. I met press regularly and on every foreign trip that I undertook. I had a press conference on return in the plane,” said Manmohan Singh at the launch his five-volume book 'Changing India'.
Manhohan further said, "I think these volumes speak for themselves and I don't want to boast about achievements as prime minister but the events that took place are well described in these volumes, particularly in the volume that deal with 'Prime Minister Speaks'."
He narrated an incidence of 2005 when he was advised by officials not to address a press conference organised by National Press Club in Washington and said officials were nervous but it turned out to be successful and the verbatim record is published in these volumes.
An unstarred question put to Information and Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore in the Rajya Sabha sought to know the list of requests for press conferences by the Prime Minister and the reasons for not accepting them. It also sought to know the list of press conferences held by the government during the last three years.
In response, the minister said,"The Prime Minister's interaction with Media representatives are both structured and unstructured and therefore the compilation of the information is not available on record." The ministers further said,"No such centralized data is maintained."
Speaking about turf war between the RBI and the Centre, the Former PM Manmohan Singh likened the RBI-government relationship to that of a husband and wife. "The RBI, government relationship is like husband and wife; differences must be harmonised so they can work in harmony," said Manmohan.
The former Prime Minister said that he has made the most of his time spent governing the country. "Life has been a great adventure and enterprise, and I have no regrets. The country has been immensely kind to me and I will never be able to repay this debt," he said.
Just recently Congress president Rahul Gandhi took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not holding a press conference during his tenure, saying he should try one someday as it is fun to be asked questions.
"Btw its been 1,654 days since u became PM. Still no press conference (sic)?" Rahul said in a tweet.
Posting pictures from his press conference in Hyderabad on Wednesday, Rahul urged Prime Minister Modi to try a press conference someday. "It's fun having questions thrown at you!" Gandhi said.
Modi used to mockingly call his predecessor Dr Manmohan Singh “Maun Mohan Singh”, but to the latter's credit he did field questions from the press.
Unlike Modi, who is an elected prime minister and a popular one at that, Singh was a nominated prime minister. However, Singh did not shy away from press briefings. He held at least two each year and regularly spoke to the media aboard his flight during foreign trips.
Modi, on the other hand, upon becoming the PM did away with the practice of carrying the media with him on his foreign trips.