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Manmohan Singh came to politics quite late in life, after he had retired as a bureaucrat. He was not an ambitious go-getter, though he proved to be an able administrator.

Ironically, his low-profile image and the quality of being above petty politics marked him out as the frontrunner for the top job the moment Sonia Gandhi opted out.

Dr Singh may lack the political stature of Sonia Gandhi, but he has the rare ability to unite and carry different sections of opinion along. As he reminded reporters after meeting the President, he knows his limitations and will work within them to improve the lot of his compatriots.

Photograph: RAVEENDRAN/AFP/Getty Images

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