The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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10 JP in 6/10 dark

New Delhi, May 17: Newsrooms across the country were told last night that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had given his government a score of 6 out of 10. But nobody told 10 Janpath.

“I presided over the meeting. Did he give himself marks' I cannot recall him giving any marks. Being a self-effacing person, I don’t think he would do that,” Sonia Gandhi said today as the Congress wondered how those who attended yesterday’s working committee session missed the Prime Minister’s purported self-assessment.

Later, it emerged that the score was included in the written speech but Singh omitted the portion while addressing the CWC.

Without realising that Singh had skipped the score, the Prime Minister’s Office last night released the “unedited” version of the speech. According to the text, asked by a journalist to rate his government and himself, Singh had said: “6/10”.

Ambika Soni, who heads the Congress media department, had briefed reporters yesterday and did not mention the marks attributed to Singh. In the speech, the Prime Minister had referred to several controversial economic measures, such as divestment and labour reforms, but the score of “6/10” was the talking point in Congress circles today.

A “surprised” media department of the party met this morning to discuss the “avoidable embarrassment” caused by the release of the text. “It was a faux pas by the Prime Minister’s Office. The Prime Minister was very upset about it,” a Congress leader said.

A PMO official later said: “The written text of the Prime Minister’s speech was released. But when the Prime Minister spoke, he departed from the speech.”

Queries on the issue awaited Sonia when she hosted an informal tea party for journalists this evening.

After saying it is not in Singh’s nature to give himself marks, Sonia steered clear of the rating race. Asked how many marks she would give to Singh’s leadership, Sonia disarmed the questioners: “I was always hopeless in mathematics' very bad in numbers.”

However, the Congress president added that “the government has really done well. I am fully satisfied with the performance”.

Sonia also has no plans to review the decision to renounce the Prime Minister’s post. “Why should I reconsider' The government (headed by Singh) has done well in the last one year. It is there for five years,” she said.

The Congress chief said she was also satisfied with the Left’s cooperation.

“Both of us know that we have to work together despite our differences.”

Alluding perhaps to the Left’s stated disappointment with the government’s performance in some areas, Sonia said: “It is unrealistic to expect that we fulfil all CMP promises in one year.”

But Sonia candidly conceded that the party led by her has not done “well” in the last year. She said a “slight readjustment” of her team of office bearers would be effected.

Asked whether Rahul Gandhi would be brought into the AICC, Sonia replied: “Why just Rahul' There are others in his age group who are also competent. Let us see.”

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