On Thursday morning, before Rajya Sabha began discussions on the Insurance Bill, the spotlight swung for a brief while towards an unlikely figure — Manmohan Singh.
A day after he was listed as an accused by a special court hearing the coal block case, and hours after the Congress leadership had marched to his house to express support, the former PM walked into a warm welcome from MPs, mostly from his own party but also including CPI’s D Raja.
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Some clasped his hands firmly and whispered in his ears, and others walked over to strike up a conversation.
As soon as Singh entered the House at 11.26 am, he greeted JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav with folded hands. Then, Congress leader Anand Sharma rushed over to sit next to Singh and engaged him in conversation for about five minutes.
Singh, who generally keeps to himself, usually looking ahead with a stoic expression when the session is on, was seen nodding his head several times.
Around 20 minutes later, another Congress leader Karan Singh went over and sat near Singh, speaking to him briefly.
Later, Raja walked over and clasped Singh’s hands. The Left leader later told The Indian Express, “I went and spoke to him about the statement he made yesterday regarding the summons by the court. I expressed solidarity.”
Singh had said yesterday that though he was upset at the latest development in the case, he was “sure that the truth will prevail” and that he would “get a chance to put forward my case with facts”.
As soon as Raja left, Singh’s former Cabinet colleague A K Antony sat next to him. This time, it was Singh who initiated the conversation.
Minutes later, Anu Aga walked over and greeted Singh. Aga was a member of the National Advisory Council (NAC) in the previous UPA regime and was nominated to Rajya Sabha in 2012.
Finally, as the House adjourned for lunch, Sharma along with another Congress MP K T S Tulsi was seen in a huddle around Singh.