India’s PM Manmohan Singh has announced that he will not stay in the post if his Congress party wins the next election, due in the summer.
Manmohan Singh, 81, has been India’s prime minister for almost a decade.
He said a Congress candidate would be named at the appropriate time, but that deputy leader Rahul Gandhi had “outstanding credentials”.
Manmohan Singh said it would be “disastrous for the country” if opposition leader Narendra Modi were elected PM.
Narendra Modi leads the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which recently beat Congress in assembly elections in four politically crucial states.
“Someone who presided over the massacre of innocent people should not be the prime minister,” Manmohan Singh said in uncharacteristically harsh words for Narendra Modi.
Narendra Modi is the chief minister of the western state of Gujarat and has been accused of doing little to stop the 2002 anti-Muslim riots there which left more than 1,000 people dead. Narendra Modi has always denied any wrongdoing.
The BJP condemned Manmohan Singh’s remark, saying Narendra Modi had made Gujarat “a model of development for the country”.
For the past decade, Manmohan Singh has headed a coalition government led by Congress.
He has often been criticized for not speaking out more forcefully. Friday’s press conference was only the third such briefing during his whole term of office.
Manmohan Singh spoke on a wide range of issues, including the economy, inflation and corruption.
“In a few months’ time, after the general election, I will hand the baton over to a new prime minister,” Manmohan Singh said in his opening remarks.
Manmohan Singh has been one of India’s longest serving prime ministers and is widely regarded as the architect of India’s economic reforms program.
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