Govt-RBI ties like 'husband-wife': Manmohan

Govt-RBI ties like 'husband-wife': Manmohan

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at launches his book "Changing India', a five-volume book, in New Delhi. PTI File Photo

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said 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.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the launch of his six-volume series of books titled 'Changing India' here, Singh, who is also a former RBI governor, said one has to respect the autonomy and the independence of the RBI.

"At the same time, I would say the relation between government and RBI is like husband-wife relationship. There will be hiccups, there will be difference of opinion, but ultimately these must be harmonised in a manner that these two great institutions can work in harmony," Singh said.

Often under attack for being a silent prime minister, Manmohan Singh hit back at his detractors with a five-volume book 'Changing India' and a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“I wasn't the PM who was afraid of talking to the press. I met press regularly. And on every foreign trip I undertook, I had a press conference on return,” Singh said in a jibe at Modi, who is yet to address a press conference since he became prime minister in May 2014.

In an interaction with economist Kaushik Basu, Singh recalled his days as a student of economics to his entry into politics and peppered it with anecdotes from his eventful journey.

“People say I was an accidental PM, I was also an accidental finance minister,” Singh quipped and added how he had ignored the then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao's invitation to him to be the Finance Minister in 1991 conveyed through P C Alexander.

"I was the then Chairman of the University Grants Commission. Next morning, I went to office as usual, only to receive a call from P V Narasimha Raoji who asked about the message from Alexander. I told him I did not take him very seriously,” Singh said sending the audience into peals of laughter.

"Narasimha Raoji told me 'you go and get dressed up and come for the swearing-in ceremony," Singh recalled.

The former prime minister also recalled how he had turned down the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's offer to make him the Minister for Planning only because he felt that he would be deprived of the pension he would get as a government servant.

Later, speaking to reporters, Singh defended the decision of the newly elected Congress governments in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to waive farm loans.

“We have to honour that commitment, that is a part of the election manifesto of the states which went to polls. So the chief ministers have announced that,” Singh told reporters.