PM says goodbye to staff

New Delhi: Preparing to demit office after 10 years, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today met his office staff to say goodbye to them while thanking them for their assistance.

He exchanged pleasantries with his 110 personal staff members and about 400 other peripheral staff members in South Block, sources said.

81-year-old Singh expressed his gratitude towards them and the staff members returned the accolades by cheering him, the sources said.

Singh, who became the Prime Minister in 2004 and retained the post in 2009, met the staff before holding Cabinet meeting this evening.

He will hold his last Cabinet meeting on Saturday, a day after the counting of votes.

After that, he will go to meet President Pranab Mukherjee. Singh had in January stated that he will hand the baton over to a new Prime Minister after the election results.     After returning from his meeting with the President, Singh will address the nation, the sources said.

On the same day, Singh will host high tea for the members of his Council of Ministers after which the President will host a dinner for all of them.

Meanwhile, the PMO, including the hall where Cabinet meetings are held, is being refurbished, to welcome a new Prime Minister.

“It is for the first time in 10 years that the PMO is spending money on refurbishment and change of upholstery,” a source said, adding, “This is being done to give a fresh look to it.”

Singh is expected to vacate his official residence at 7, Race Course Raod and moved into a bungalow at 3, Motilal Nehru Road, which too has been refurbished.

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