News / Asia

India's PM Singh to Step Down After Election

Indian Prime Minster Manmohan Singh addresses a press conference, in New Delhi, India, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014.
Indian Prime Minster Manmohan Singh addresses a press conference, in New Delhi, India, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014.
Anjana Pasricha
India's longtime Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has announced he will step down after elections later this year. As his government’s popularity plummets, the Indian leader defended his record at a rare news conference Friday.
 
Manmohan Singh

-Born in 1932
-Earned degrees at Oxford and Cambridge, including a doctorate in economics
-Became economics advisor in the Commerce Ministry in 1971
-Served as India's finance minister from 1991 to 1996
-A member of Upper House of Parliament since 1991
-Served as prime minister since 2004
Singh says he will not return to his post even if his Congress Party is able to secure a third term in office. The 81-year-old prime minister has held the top job for nearly ten years.
 
According to forecasts, the Congress Party is unlikely to win elections scheduled to be held by May. But Singh expressed hope that his successor will be from the ruling coalition.
 
Rahul Gandhi, the son of Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi, is expected to be the party’s choice - a view the prime minister endorsed.  
 
“Rahul Gandhi has outstanding credentials to be nominated [as the party's prime-ministerial candidate], and I hope our party will take that decision at an appropriate time,” said Singh.
 
Singh was unusually critical of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, saying it would be “disastrous for the country” to have him as the next prime minister. The Hindu nationalist BJP trounced the Congress Party in a round of recent local elections, raising the party’s hopes of forming the next government.
 
Political commentators have often compared Modi to Singh, and in some measure attribute Modi’s growing popularity to the differences between the two leaders. Modi is seen as decisive and strong, Singh as weak and ineffectual. Whereas Modi has been crisscrossing the country addressing a host of public meetings ahead of the elections, Singh is a reluctant speaker and campaigner.
 
But Singh denounced the BJP leader for the 2002 anti Muslim riots which swept through Gujarat state which Modi governs, and killed more than 1000 people.     
 
“If by strong Prime Minister you mean that you preside over the mass massacre of innocent citizens in the streets of Ahmedabad, that is the measure of strength, I do not believe that sort of strength this country needs, least of all in its prime minister,” said Singh.
 
Modi has always denied any wrongdoing in connection with the riots.
 
Singh defended his record in office, saying history will be kinder to him than the media or the opposition.
 
His second term has been tarnished by a series of corruption scandals and criticism that he has not done enough to tackle graft. Slowing economic growth and a huge rise in food prices have eroded his government’s popularity. Both factors were blamed for the massive losses the Congress party suffered in recent local elections.
 
But Singh says his government has taken several steps to protect the rural poor from inflation and to combat corruption.
 
“An array of historical legislation has been enacted to make the work of the government transparent and accountable,” said Singh. "Governance has been made more answerable as never before.”
 
The Indian leader also said India attaches the highest priority to strengthening New Delhi’s strategic partnership with the United States. He was referring to tensions that have flared between the two countries over last month’s detention of an Indian diplomat in New York on charges of underpaying her domestic help. The arrest infuriated India.   
 
“There have been recently some hiccups, but I sincerely believe that these are temporary aberrations and diplomacy should be given a chance to resolve these issues,” said Singh.
 
Singh also said that India is committed to improving relations with its neighbors including Pakistan.
 
The Indian leader rarely addresses the media - this was his first news conference since 2010.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs