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You will always remain a hero to middle class: Kharge as Manmohan Singh retires from Rajya Sabha

As former prime minister Manmohan Singh retires from Rajya Sabha, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Tuesday, 2 April wrote to him lauding his contribution to the country and said he will remain a "hero" to the middle class and the aspirational youth.

The current set of leaders "who have reaped the benefits of your work are reluctant to credit you due to political biases", Kharge said in his letter to Singh, who will complete his 33-year journey in Parliament when his tenure ends on 3 April.

Kharge said that with Singh's retirement, 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," he said.

The Congress leader said Singh 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".

"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," the Congress chief said.

Thanks to your policies, he said, 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.

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The MGNREGA scheme launched under the Manmohan Singh government continues to provide relief to rural workers during times of crisis, he said.

"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," he noted.

Kharge said the nation misses the quiet yet strong dignity that Singh 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," he said.

He said that "unscrupulousness" is being equated with astute leadership in the current political situation and added, "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 a 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," Kharge said.

He expressed the hope that Singh will continue to be the voice of wisdom and moral compass to the nation.

Kharge also said economic prosperity and stability being enjoyed today are built on the foundations laid by "you along with our former Prime Minister, Bharat Ratna, Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao".

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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," he said.

Whatever little reforms done by the current government has its seeds in the work initiated in the UPA government headed by you, he said.

In the letter to Singh, Kharge claimed that the work initiated by his government to ensure the direct transfer of benefits to individual beneficiaries by creating zero balance accounts and unique identification of the beneficiary through Aadhaar was "hijacked by the succeeding government without giving you credit".

The Congress chief said personally, it has been a privilege for him to have been a part of his cabinet and Singh has "always been a source of wisdom and someone whose advice 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," he said.