Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Friday, stunned everyone by announcing not to play the third innings for the top political post and that his tenure would end with the general elections in May this year.
“In a few months, after the general elections, I will pass the baton to a new prime minister,” Singh said in his opening statement at a press conference in New Delhi.
“I will not be a candidate for prime-ministership if the UPA (the United Progressive Alliance) comes back to power.” “I hope it will be a UPA chosen prime minister, and our party will work to that end in the campaign for the general elections,” he said.
The stage appears all set for Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi’s appointment for the big seat. Endorsing the young leader’s potential for the executive head, Singh said, “Rahul Gandhi has outstanding credentials to be the PM candidate.”
However, Singh also added that the Congress would announce its next candidate for the job at an appropriate time.
During the address, the outgoing prime minister gave a sharp blow to Narender Modi, the Bhartiya Janta Party led National Democratic Alliance’s prime ministerial candidate, dismissing his worth for the high-end post by saying that Modi would be “disastrous for the nation.”
“I do not believe in the kind of strength the country needs if it meant presiding over mass massacre of innocent citizens on the streets of Ahmedabad,” Singh said in an uncharacteristic style, while obviously pointing at the 2002 Gujarat riots that took several lives and injured thousands.
Remembering the best moment of his decade-long tenure as the prime minister of India, he described the signing of the Indo-US nuclear deal saying, “The best moment for me was when we were able to strike a nuclear deal with the U.S. to end the nuclear apartheid, which had sought to stifle the process of social and economic change, and technical progress of our country in many ways.”
While talking about the ongoing alleged visa fraud diplomatic row with the U.S., Singh said that the Indian government’s highest priority is attached to strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries. “There have been some hiccups recently, but I sincerely believe these are temporary aberrations and diplomacy should be given a chance to resolve the issue that has arisen.”
In the 75-minute long conference, Singh’s third and probably last such official interaction before his term ends, the 81-year-old intellectual brain replied to multitude of questions in front of the media personnel. He made it clear that history would be the perfect judge of his tenure, while underscoring the sincerity and dedication with which he has been serving the country.
“I honestly believe that history will be kinder to me than the contemporary media or for that matter the opposition in Parliament,” he said. “It is for history to judge what I have done or what I have not done,” he said.”
Singh’s tenure, which would end in May this year, would mark an unprecedented and uninterrupted decade long innings of a prime minister since the time of Independent India’s first Prime Minister late Jawaharlal Nehru.