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Washington Impressions: A First For the PM
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Prime ministers are usually loathe to share the limelight.

When the prime minister addresses a press conference, the drill never changes -- only the PM speaks.

Dr Manmohan Singh's end of visit press conference at the Wardman Mariott hotel in Washington, DC last Wednesday, July 20, marked a first for prime ministerial media briefings.

It was the first time that a member of the Cabinet joined the prime minister in addressing the media in all the years that premiers' press conferences have been televised in India.

As Dr Singh's interaction with the Indian media drew to an end, External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh informed the prime minister's media adviser Dr Sanjaya Baru that he too would speak.

Natwar Singh -- who is said to be close to Congress president Sonia Gandhi -- then informed us at some length about India's initiative to become a member of the United Nations Security Council. He spoke about how United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had cast protocol aside to call him on July 17 -- in the process he took a swipe at one of his predecessors (Jaswant Singh) who limited his encounters with a US deputy secretary of state (Strobe Talbott; do check Strobe's piece on the Manmohan visit in Pakistan's Daily Times) -- before the prime minister's staff indicated it was time for Dr Singh to move to his next engagement at the National Press Club.

Did the prime minister know about his foreign minister's decision to brief the media? We dunno. Dr Singh's features said little as did the trained expressions on the faces of PMO officials.

Impressions: Nikhil Lakshman in Washington, DC. Photograph: Paresh Gandhi

Also See: A View From The White House

History Beckons: Dr Singh visits Washington

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