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

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership 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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs