Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who leaves office this week, was tonight given a warm farewell dinner by Congress President Sonia Gandhi which was attended by a galaxy of party leaders and Union ministers. However, the talking point of the evening became not the event itself, but the missing Rahul Gandhi who was expected to attend.
The function at 10, Janpath was held as a mark of gratitude by the party whose coalition government the 81-year-old Singh led for 10 long years.
A memento was presented to Manmohan Singh with signatures of top Congress leaders and Union ministers and Pallam Raju read out the dedication inscribed on it in praise and honour of the prime minister.
Both Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur were presented with bouquets and party leaders were seen scrambling for a photograph with the couple and Sonia Gandhi.
However, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi was not present.
The economist-turned-politician had announced his retirement some time back saying he would not run for a third term.
The party had only yesterday hailed Singh's able stewardship of the government, underlining how he had led the country through difficult times.
"Singh's experienced and seasoned stewardship, his personal integrity and ability to lead the country through difficult times is noteworthy and India is proud to have earned so many laurels and respect during the 10 years," AICC had said yesterday.
Party leaders, including Sonia Gandhi, have often expressed their appreciation of Singh during the UPA-I and UPA-II governments for having carved out a trajectory of clear inclusive growth, stability and social harmony in the country.
Singh would be demitting office on May 17, a day after the Lok Sabha election results are announced.
He had assumed office on May 22, 2009, for his second straight term as prime minister and already holds the distinction of being the third-longest serving head of the Union government after Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi.
A former governor of RBI, Singh -- who is often described as the architect of India's economic reforms Ė entered politics in 1991 when he was made Finance Minister by the then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao.