Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh made it clear that he will demit office after the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections and he will not be the candidate for this top office even his party succeeded to come back. He said that he will not be a candidate for Prime Ministership if the Congress-led UPA comes back to power.
Being the Prime Minister of India for two consecutive terms, addressing a media conference in the national capital New Delhi on Friday, he said “In a few months’ time, after the general election, I will hand the baton over to a new Prime Minister. I hope it will be a UPA chosen Prime Minister and our party will work to that end in the campaign for the General Elections.”
He also indicated that Congress Vice Presidentwill be best suitable Prime Ministerial candidate for the country. Stating that he is an outstanding leader, he expressed hope that his party will take a decision on this issue at an appropriate time. He expressed confidence that the new generation of our leaders will also guide this great nation successfully through the uncharted and uncertain waters of global change.
Dr Manmohan Singh warned the nation at the attempts of BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidateto win over the forthcoming polls. He cautioned that Narendra Modi will prove to be "disastrous" for India if he were to become the Prime Minister.
"Without discussing the merits of Narendra Modi, I sincerely believe that it will be disastrous for the country to have Modi as the PM," he said. He added that he was fully confident that the next Prime Minister, after the Lok Sabha election, will also be from the Congress-led UPA coalition.
Referring to the state of affairs in the country, the Prime Minister said that the cycle of global economic growth is turning for the better. Many of the steps have taken to address domestic constraints are coming into play. India’s own growth momentum will revive, he added.
“An important development in the year that has gone by is the demonstration of the strength of our democracy. Our people have demonstrated their faith in the institutions of democracy by voting in record numbers in the recent assembly elections. Our party did not do well in these elections, but we welcome the extent of participation, and we will reflect on what the results tell us for the future and learn appropriate lesson”, he added.
According to him, India’s democratic Constitution and the institutions of our democracy are the cornerstone of Modern India. “All of us who wish to build a better India, rid of poverty and corruption, must respect these institutions and work through them. They are the legitimate instruments in our hands, with all their limitations. No one individual or authority can substitute for the due processes of democratic governance”, he said.
Referring to his regime as Prime Minister, Dr Singh said that over the past decade India has been through many ups and downs. During my first term in office, India witnessed for the first time in its recorded history a short acceleration of the rate of economic growth to 9.0 per cent. This exceptional performance was followed by a slowdown initiated by the global financial crisis. Over the past couple of years, all Emerging Economies have experienced a slowdown. India was no exception.
Stating that economies have ups and downs and we should not focus overly on the short term, he pointed out that we should recognize that even if we include the years of slowdown, the rate of growth achieved in the past nine years, is the highest for any nine year period. And it is not just the acceleration of growth that gives me satisfaction. Equally important is the fact that we made the growth process more socially inclusive than it has ever been.
Recalling beginning days of his regime as Prime Minister, he said that in 2004 he had committed that his government would be “A New Deal for Rural India”. He asserted that he has delivered on that promise very substantially following farmer friendly policies including raising support prices for farm produce, expanding credit to farmers, and through increased investment in horticulture, in rural development, and rural infrastructure, especially roads and electricity.
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme has assured agricultural labour of a floor and has increased their bargaining power. Improved delivery of health and education services is giving new hope to our brothers and sisters living in rural areas of our country, he added.
Dr Manmohan Singh said that these initiatives have ensured that agricultural GDP has grown faster than ever before. India has become one of the world’s largest producers of food-grains, sugar, fruits and vegetables, milk and poultry. Rural wages have increased in real terms much faster than earlier. Rural real consumption per capita has increased four times faster. Because of these developments the percentage of the population below the poverty line has fallen much faster in the period 2004 to 2011 than it did in the previous ten year period. As a result, the number of people below the poverty line has come down by 13.8 crore.
According to him, education has been a key element of his strategy to increase the productive capacity of our economy and improve access to better jobs. He said he takes great pride in the fact that they have transformed the educational landscape of India. Through Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, through new scholarships for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and Minorities, and with a focus on the Girl Child and young women, he said they have widened educational opportunities. “We have set up new universities, new institutes of science and technology, new industrial training centres and enabled the flowering of individual enterprise in skill building and education”, he said.
The Prime Minister also expressed satisfaction with his government’s legislative efforts. Despite unprecedented parliamentary holdups, he recalled that they have passed several important laws that seek to empower the people and its democratic institutions. In this regard, he mentioned three points as major lapses of his regime.
First, he said that he is concerned that they have not been as successful as they need to be in generating employment in the manufacturing sector. This is an aspect of performance which they are working hard to correct. He admitted that they need a much stronger effort in support of small and medium enterprises which can be a major source of good quality employment. The Manufacturing Strategy gives high priority to this objective for the future.
Secondly, he said they have also not been as successful in controlling inflation as they would have wished. This is primarily because food inflation has increased. However, he said that we should remember that those who produce food gain from higher prices. Also our inclusive policies have put more money in the hands of the weaker sections, he added. To keep food prices in control, he said we need to increase supplies and also improve marketing arrangements and logistics. This is especially important for items which are perishable, such as fruits and vegetables. Much of this work lies in the domain of the States. He expressed happy that Food Security Act that we have passed will to some extent shield the common man from rising food prices.
According to him, the worry about inflation is legitimate but we should also recognize that incomes for most people have increased faster than inflation. Real wages in rural areas have increased faster than before. Per-capita consumption in both rural and urban areas has increased significantly.
Thirdly, he said his government is deeply committed to the objective of combating corruption. An array of historical legislations has been enacted to make the work of the Government transparent and accountable. Governance has been made more answerable as never before. However, he admitted that there is much public concern on high profile allegations of corruption, notably in regard to 2G spectrum allocations, coal block allocations and cases related to land.
“We have taken major steps to change the existing procedures for allocation of spectrum and coal by shifting to auctions so that these problems do not arise in future. Where some decisions taken earlier, when allocations were made administratively, have come under question, they are being investigated. Any wrong doing will be punished through due process of law”, he added. As land issues are in the domain of state governments, he said that they have been consistently advising state governments to ensure transparency in these cases.
Referring to the external environment, Dr Manmohan Singh said that the one lesson we shall all learn from our experience over the past decade is that the world around us is becoming more challenging. This is both a function of our greater integration with the world and of the international community’s expectations from a rising India. This is India’s manifest destiny. We should recognize it as such and learn to deal with it.
He assured that India will continue to invest in its defence and national security, in providing security to its own people and ensuring regional security and stability. At the same time, he said it will continue to seek better relations with our immediate neighbours knowing that the destiny of the Indian sub-continent is linked through a shared history and a shared geography.
“It has also been my effort to build long term, stable and mutually beneficial relations with all major powers and all our Asian neighbours. We should continue to benefit from global opportunities and contribute to global efforts in creating and managing global institutions to deal with global challenges”, he said.