Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday ruled out a third term in office, and slammed opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi for massacring people in the streets of Gujarat where Modi is chief minister.
At a press conference, Singh said he hopes a new prime minister from the incumbent Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) would come to power after the upcoming general election in May. He said he would hand over the baton to a new prime minister after the election.
He also hinted that Congress Vice President Nehru-Gandhi scion Rahul Gandhi could be soon nominated prime minister candidate by the UPA, saying that the latter has "outstanding" credentials to be candidate.
On BJP candidate, Singh said while he does not mean anything personal to Modi, he "sincerely" believed if the Gujarat chief minister became prime minister, it would be a "disaster" for India.
He said he could not trust a man who let massacres taking place under his nose in his own state to govern the country, in reference to the 2002 communal violence in Gujarat in which hundreds of Muslims were slaughtered by mobs allegedly supported by the state government.
Analysts say while the press conference, the third in Singh's 10-year-term, is seen as a farewell one to the nation, the prime minister also used it to send a very strong appeal for voters to support the Congress-led UPA in the coming election.
Singh also defended the performances of the UPA in bringing about economic and social development to India over the past 10 years, saying India for the first time had seen 9 percent growth rates of GDP since Independence, while the country saw tremendous achievement in reducing poverty, promoting health and education and agricultural development.
He denied some allegation of corruption against the Congress and himself, such as a so-called coal-gate scam.
The Congress lost in four key local legislative elections late last year, including that of the national capital region. The BJP won or led in all these elections.
Local media have widely criticized the Congress for corruption and failure to curb inflation as reasons for losing the local elections.