New Delhi, Jan 3 – Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday ruled out a third term in office, saying that he will hand over the baton to a new Prime Minister after the upcoming general election in May, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.
At a press conference, Manmohan said he hoped a new prime minister from the incumbent Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) would come to power after the election.
He also hinted that Congress Vice President, Nehru-Gandhi scion Rahul Gandhi, could be soon nominated the prime minister candidate by the UPA, saying that the latter has “outstanding” credentials to be a candidate.
On Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate, Manmohan said while he “does not mean anything personal” to Narendra Modi, he “sincerely” believed if the Gujarat Chief Minister became the Prime Minister, it would be a “disaster” for India.
He said he could not trust a man who let massacres took place under his nose in his own state to govern the country, in reference to the 2002 communal violence in Gujarat in which hundreds of Muslims were slaughtered by mobs allegedly supported by the state government.
Analysts said that while the press conference, the third in Manmohan’s 10-year-term, is seen as a farewell one to the nation, the Prime Minister also used it as a platform to strongly appeal for voters to support the Congress-led UPA in the coming election.
Manmohan also defended the performances of the UPA in bringing about economic and social development to India over the past 10 years, saying that India for the first time had seen nine per cent growth rates of GDP since Independence and that the country saw tremendous achievement in reducing poverty, promoting health and education and agricultural development.
He denied some allegation of corruption against the Congress and himself, such as a so-called coal-gate scam.
The Congress lost in four key local legislative elections late last year, including that of the national capital region, while the BJP won or led in all these elections.
Local media have widely criticised the Congress for corruption and failure to curb inflation as reasons for losing the local elections.