Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announces retirement, launches scathing attack on possible successor

Mr Singh threw his support behind Rahul Gandhi, claiming it would be 'disastrous' for the country if Hindu nationalist leader Narendra Modi became the next leader

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has announced he will retire after the country’s summer election after 10 years of leading the world’s biggest democracy.

In a rare press conference today - his first in three years and only third in his time as leader - the 81-year-old threw his support behind Rahul Gandhi as the person to succeed him if the Congress Party, to which both belong, win the election.

“In a few months' time, after the general election, I will hand the baton over to a new prime minister,” Mr Singh said.

“Rahul Gandhi has outstanding credentials to be nominated as the candidate and I hope our party will take that decision at an appropriate time.”

Mr Singh’s party is however lagging behind the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Narendra Modi in opinion polls.

In a scathing attack on Mr Modi, the man who could well replace him, Mr Singh said he "sincerely believed" that it would be "disastrous for the country to have Narendra Modi as the prime minister."

Mr Modi is campaigning on a platform to revive an economy growing at its slowest in a decade and end the red tape and corruption that have bedevilled the Congress-led coalition.

The Congress fared badly in elections in four large states towards the end of last year, largely due to voters' anger over corruption.

Mr Modi, chief minister of western Gujarat state for the past 11 years, is credited with turning his western state into an industrial haven. But critics question whether the Hindu nationalist chief can be a truly secular leader over India's many cultures.

Mr Modi has been accused of doing little to stop anti-Muslim riots in the state in 2002, which left more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, dead. Mr Modi denies wrongdoing and a Supreme Court investigation found no evidence to prosecute him.

Referencing the incident, Mr Singh turned a suggestion that he had been a weak prime minister into a further attack on Mr Modi.

“If by strong prime minister you mean that you preside over the mass massacre of innocent citizens in the streets,” Mr Singh said. “I do not believe that sort of strength this country needs. Least of all in its prime minister.”

The Congress Party is due to hold a top-level meeting on January 17 and is anticipated to announce its candidate - expected to be Mr Gandhi - soon afterwards.

Mr Gandhi, 43, belongs to the long established Nehru-Ghandi political dynasty. His grandmother, Indira Gandhi, and his father Rajiv Gandhi, both of whom were assassinated, have served as Prime Minister.

Mr Gandhi's great-grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru was the country's first Prime Minister, while his mother, Sonia Gandhi, an Italian native, is the current chairperson of the Congress Party.

News
people
News
people
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

RE Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Teacher of Religious Education ...

A Level Chemistry Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: A Level Chemistry Teacher - Humb...

NQT Secondary Teachers

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education is actively r...

ICT Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: ICT Teacher - Scunthorpe This r...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence