The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Wife’s priority: Cooking gas

New Delhi, May 20: The Prime Minister is caught between his wife and the vagaries of the market.

If Manmohan Singh’s wife has her way, the price of cooking gas will remain as it is. “We are already paying around Rs 241 for every LPG cylinder.... I don’t think the price should go up any further,” Gursharan Kaur, the wife of the man who started the process of liberalisation, said today, reflecting the hopes of every homemaker.

What if the pull of the market proves stronger than that of the hearth'

Simple' Caesar’s wife — and every homemaker like her — will have to make do with at least Rs 59 less. The government provides huge subsidies for cooking gas and the price of every cylinder would cross Rs 300 if these are removed.

But Kaur is confident her husband will do a “good job” as Prime Minister. “Mujhe poora yakin hai ki woh zor laga ke har samasya ka hal karenge (I have full confidence that he will do his best to solve all the problems),” she told reporters at a brief interaction.

Yet the woman who has kept the home fires burning for the country’s Prime Minister-elect did not get to hear of his elevation from her husband. She heard it on television and her first reaction was of disbelief.

“I came to know from the television, not from him. I could not believe it...” Kaur said, asked about her first reaction to the news.

“I thought if Sonia Gandhi becomes the PM, it would be good.… Later, when she met the President along with Singh, I felt very good.”

So, would things remain the same after Manmohan takes charge' Sitting beside her mother, Manmohan’s daughter Upinder had no doubt. “He is a very balanced person,” she shot back. “He would be able to combine the role of a Prime Minister and that of a father.”

Kaur said her husband, a frugal eater, “prefers vegetarian food”. She used to cook for him till 1991, the year he became P.V. Narasimha Rao’s finance minister.

Has he ordered special clothes like sherwani for the swearing-in' Kaur smiled. “I think he will be uncomfortable if he has to wear special clothes,” she said.

Manmohan usually wears white pyjama-kurta and sports a light blue turban.

As with every married couple, Kaur said, they have, at times, “differences” of opinion. “But we make up.”

Hopefully, for the architect of reforms, that’s the way it will work out with his partners in government.

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