Indian PM Manmohan Singh to retire after elections


Manmohan Singh: "In a few months time I will hand the baton over"

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Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has announced that he will not stay in the post if his Congress party wins the next election, due in the summer.

Mr Singh, 81, has been Indian PM for almost a decade.

He said a Congress candidate would be named at the appropriate time, but that deputy leader Rahul Gandhi had "outstanding credentials".

Mr Singh said it would be "disastrous for the country" if opposition leader Narendra Modi were elected PM.

Mr Modi leads the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which recently beat Congress in assembly elections in four politically crucial states.


Mr Singh's announcement that he will not seek a third term was widely expected, especially after his party's defeat in last month's state elections. He acknowledged that he had been unable to tackle corruption and inflation and also generate jobs - all major concerns with the voters. But he said history would judge him kindly.

Manmohan Singh, an economist who was an unexpected choice for the top post in 2004, has been one of India's longest serving prime ministers.

But his image has taken a beating in recent months, especially over a slew of corruption scandals.

Also, of late, his position has been undermined by the growing influence of Rahul Gandhi, the latest member of the influential Nehru-Gandhi dynasty who is widely projected as the Congress Party's next leader.

"Someone who presided over the massacre of innocent people should not be the prime minister," Mr Singh said in uncharacteristically harsh words for Mr Modi.

Mr Modi is the chief minister of the western state of Gujarat and has been accused of doing little to stop the 2002 anti-Muslim riots there which left more than 1,000 people dead. Mr Modi has always denied any wrongdoing.

The BJP condemned Mr Singh's remark, saying Mr Modi had made Gujarat "a model of development for the country".

'Hand over baton'

For the past decade, Mr Singh has headed a coalition government led by Congress.

He has often been criticised for not speaking out more forcefully. Friday's press conference was only the third such briefing during his whole term of office.

Mr Singh spoke on a wide range of issues, including the economy, inflation and corruption.

"In a few months' time, after the general election, I will hand the baton over to a new prime minister," Mr Singh said in his opening remarks.

He said he was "confident" that the next prime minister would be from the Congress-led coalition and that Rahul Gandhi had outstanding credentials to be nominated as the party's candidate.

Rahul Gandhi with supporters Mr Singh said Rahul Gandhi had excellent credentials to be the Congress candidate for PM

"I am confident that the new generation of our leaders will also guide this great nation successfully through the uncharted and uncertain waters of global change," he said.

"I have ruled myself out as a prime ministerial candidate," he added.

Mr Singh said the government was "deeply committed to the objective of combating corruption. An array of historical legislations has been enacted to make the work of the government transparent and accountable".

He defended his legacy, praised his government's work for the rural poor and farmers, and said that his government had "transformed the education landscape of the country".

Mr Singh has been one of India's longest serving prime ministers and is widely regarded as the architect of India's economic reforms programme.

However, in recent years, his government has been beset by corruption allegations, with disenchantment rising steadily.

On Thursday, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said Mr Singh should explain how he thought history would judge his tenure, referring to the PM's "failure" to assert himself on corruption and his "subversion" of constitutional institutions.

"Since his government is perceived to be extremely corrupt, where does he feel he went wrong in not asserting himself when the situation so demanded?" Mr Jaitley asked.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    United India is a menace to mankind and humanity! Gandhi and others did not struggle for independence from the British to have the current India that is violent, mockery, barbarianism and even today gang rapes are taking place. The British should have left India like it was prior to colonialism for the native people live in harmony. Now most lost their freedom, human rights and independence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    Wait till Mr. Modi gets elected. My ultra rich cousins already moving to safe "HAVENS".

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    MMS is typical of Congress - lots of Harvard lawyers and so called technocrats - whose record never lived up to their credentials.

    The fact that he has regressed into a slanderer on his way out robs him of even the stoicism that one would expect of a real statesman.

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    Dr Manmohan Singh lack of courage and "understanding" of MASSES brought his downfall. His advisors failed to advice him of his impending doom. I think he should TRY for third term with a different theme. He CAN WIN. Anyway, i'm moving to London too with everything I can salvage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    Since independence from the British, India is a total failure in democratic values, rule of law, justice, governance, respect to humanity, mankind and increase of barbarianism, mockery, corruption, lynching, violence, gang rapes and disrespect to women. Is this the land of Mohandas Gandhi? China and the Western nations should help India to break into small nations to be live in harmony!


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