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

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
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.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs