New Delhi, May 18 UNI | 2 months ago

It was an 'emotional' farewell to outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by President Pranab Mukherjee, who recalled his over 40 year long association with Dr Singh, from the days when he (Dr Singh) was RBI Governor.

Sources said that in an emotional speech at a farewell banquet hosted for the outgoing PM and his Cabinet colleagues, Mr Mukherjee said,"I will make a departure from normal practice because the gentleman to whom I am saying goodbye has worked with me for over four decades." Speaking at the banquet, where BJP leader and Leader of Opposition in the 15th Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, Vice President Hamid Ansari, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, the Prime Minister's Principal Secretary Pulok Chatterjee, and Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth were among those present, Mr Mukherjee said his association with Dr Singh began when he became a junior finance minister in 1974.

In his speech, the President said he was impressed with Dr Singh's 'depth of knowledge'; and advise on crucial economic issues.

Mr Mukhrjee told Dr Singh that his contribution to the economic reforms in the '90s will always be remembered.

"The country will remember your contribution during 1991 when you took a new path in economic reforms. In 1990s, there was a new phase of development when India made a breakthrough in growth rate,"Mr Mukherjee said.

On his part, Dr Singh also thanked Mr Mukherjee for his support was of great value and that the economic reforms would not have gained momentum without his support.

In an emotional speech, the outgoing PM said, "forgive me if I become a little emotional.Our partnership goes back 40 years." Dr Singh said Mr Mukherjee was a valued colleague in the UPA, as the senior most member of the council of ministers who shouldered enormous burden in the Group of Ministers.

"His contribution has been of lasting value. The president's wisdom, knowledge, and experience are a great national asset.. From the core of my heart I thank you for your contribution to nation building,'; Dr Singh said.

(Posted on 18-05-2014)