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India's Singh Says He Will Step Down

India's prime minister says he will step down after elections later this year.

Manmohan Singh, who is 81 years old, said Friday at a rare news conference he will hand over power to a new prime minister after elections this year.

He said Rahul Gandhi should take his place, if Mr. Singh's ruling Congress party wins a third term.

However, public opinion polls indicate the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, headed by Narendra Modi, is more likely to win the national elections, after delivering a drubbing to Congress in recent state elections.

Mr. Singh said it would be "disastrous" if Modi became prime minister.

Modi, who is chief minister of western Gujarat state, has been accused of doing little to stop anti-Muslim riots in 2002 shortly after he came into office. The violence left more than 1,000 people dead.

Supporters say that since then, Modi's record of steady governance, development and growth has won over voters across Gujarat's 60 million people, including Muslims.



Prime Minister Singh has been widely seen as someone who took the prime minister position until Rahul Gandhi was ready to take it, which some believe is Gandhi's birthright. His father, grandmother and great-grandfather were all prime ministers of India, but Gandhi has shunned several invitations to join the government.

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