The buzz was that Air India One, the Indian prime minister’s official plane, was going to take off half an hour earlier than scheduled from the Phnom Penh VVIP air strip on Tuesday evening. Then, there was talk that the delay was on account of a brief meeting with US President Barack Obama, so the air was thick with expectation of what Singh might have to say. But within minutes of take-off – on time – it was clear that Singh would not hold his customary on-board press conference after all.
Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and senior bureaucrats would fill in for him. The reason, though, had nothing to do with any high-level confabulations by the prime minister, but something as mundane as a sore throat. But that didn’t stop journalists from speculating that Singh had been advised not to face media questions just ahead of the winter session of Parliament, that is almost guaranteed to be stormy.