NEW DELHI - India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Jan 3 declared that he would bow out of office after the Lok Sabha elections. “I will hand over the baton to a new Prime Minister,” Manmohan Singh said in an opening statement at a rare press conference, making it clear that he would no longer be in the running for the job when he completes his 10-year tenure in May after the Lok Sabha polls.
A number of questions at the 75-minute press conference here pertained to his record in office which he deflected by repeatedly saying that it was his belief that history would be kinder to him than the contemporary media or the opposition. The press conference, only the third held by Manmohan Singh in nearly 10 years in office, covered a wide range of subjects, mostly political, some pertaining to the state of the economy and a few on foreign policy. To a query whether “dual centers of power” in Congress had affected his functioning, the Prime Minister said “I sincerely believe that the arrangement where the Congress President and the Prime Minister did not happen to be same person has under the circumstances worked exceedingly well. “For me it was a remarkable achievement that I have been able to complete 10 years without any hiccups between the Prime Minister and Congress President. Sonia Gandhi’s support has been enormous. She was there to back me which facilitated my task in more than one way.” Asked about the perception that the decisions were taken in 10, Janpath, a reference to Sonia Gandhi’s house, he said, “It is not a question of Congress President or the Vice President. If they have any view it ought to be reflected in the government to the extent possible. It is not a disadvantage or a drawback in our system. This has enabled us to deal with many issues. (PTI)