"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 said in a much awaited press conference here.
"I will not be candidate for prime ministership if UPA comes back to power," he said.
He said Rahul Gandhi has outstanding credentials to be nominated as the prime ministerial candidate and hoped that the party will take that decision at an appropriate time.
"We will announce the candidate for PM at an appropriate time," he said.
"I am confident that the next Prime Minister will be from the UPA coalition," said the PM.
He admitted that Sonia Gandhi had been a strength to him in governance and said he always felt that the government would have been strengthened if Rahul Gandhi had joined.
"But I respect his sentiment," he said on Rahul remaining reluctant to be the PM or join active governance.
He said he believed that India is set for better times. "The cycle of global economic growth is turning for the better," he said.
"New generation of our leaders will also guide this great nation successfully through the uncharted and uncertain waters of global change," said the PM.
He said "if you compare the performance of our 9 years and preceding 6 years, you will find we have done exceedingly well."
The PM said signing the nuclear deal with USA that ended the nuclear apartheid against India was the high point of his tenure.
He also strongly defended himself in the coal scam, 2G and other such cases.
"I feel somewhat sad because I was the one who insisted that spectrum allocations should be transparent. I was the one who insisted that coal blocks should be allocated on the basis of auctions," he said.
"These facts are forgotten and the Opposition has vested interests. When history is written we will come out unscathed. This is not to say there weren't regularities," he said.
--IBNS (Posted on 03-01-2014)