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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More