Manmohan Singh rules out third term as PM

New Delhi, Jan.3 : Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Friday confirmed that he will not be contesting for a third consecutive term in office.

Addressing his second interaction with the media during the UPA-II regime at the National Media Centre here, Dr. Singh said: "I will hand over the baton to a new Prime Minister aftert the general elections.

"The (Congress) Party will announce a Prime Ministerial candidate at the appropriate time," he added

He also said that he hoped that the next Prime Minister of India would be from the UPA.

He also said that Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi possessed outstanding credentials to be the Prime Minister of India, and reiterated that the Congress Party would take the appropriate decision at the right time.

He, however, did not throw light on what his future plans would be after demitting office

On Tuesday, the Congress and the government scotched rumours that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would announce his resignation on Friday to make way for party vice president Rahul Gandhi.

Television channels, quoting sources, said the Prime Minister is likely to resign in his press conference scheduled January 3, paving way for Gandhi. However, the government denied it.

"This report is completely baseless, based on conjecture and insinuation. I don't even think it should be dignified with a response," Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said, responding to a question on Manmohan Singh's resignation.

"Media persons keep cribbing that he (prime minister) doesn't talk to them. Now that the prime minister has consented to talk to the press in the beginning of 2014, to even speculate in the manner in which it is being done, I think is in poor taste," he added.

Sources in the Prime Minister's Office too said the "PM will complete his full term".

There is speculation in the Congress that Rahul may be named the party's prime ministerial candidate Jan 17 when the party holds a conclave in Delhi ahead of the general elections likely April-May.

The Congress supported the PMO's view. "When there is a denial from the PMO, there is no need for a clarification," Congress spokesperson Meem Afzal told reporters.

He, however, refused to comment whether Rahul would be named the PM candidate next month.

Put the same question, Tewari said: "I can only refer to the statement of Congress president (Sonia Gandhi) that an appropriate decision would be taken at an appropriate time."

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram's remark Monday that the Congress should name its prime ministerial candidate ahead of the polls to give a clear signal to the voters added to the speculation.

The speculation has gained ground as many in the Congress see low probability of a third term for Manmohan Singh if the Congress is able to form a government after the elections.

They feel in that case Rahul should take over. But, opinion is divided on the issue.

Despite a clarification from the Congress and the government, the BJP and the AAP said it would be dynastic politics if Manmohan Singh resigns to pave way for Rahul.

Friday's press conference will be Dr. Singh's second such interaction with the media in his second term as the Prime Minister, which began in May 2009.

He had addressed a press conference during his first term (2004-2009).

The press conference is taking place ahead of the All-India Congress Committee session on January 17 that may see Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi being named as the party's prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 general elections.

--ANI (Posted on 03-01-2014)

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