Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will not seek re-election after ten years in office. Singh held a press conference in New Delhi on Friday, January 3, 2014. The move marks Singh’s third time addressing the media during his two terms. Singh will pass along the torch this upcoming May election.
Ratings are low for Singh’s party, the Indian National Congress. Singh addressed India’s looming economic issues. Inflation continues to plague the country, particularly the price surge in commodities worldwide. The PM notes he has pushed auctions as a basis for allocating coal blocks.
Singh adds his party has taken appropriate steps in giving recommendations to the Sachchar Committee, all to no avail. He notes that courts also have not implemented Congress’s recommendations to slow inflation.
Reform is the way to go. Singh proclaims that reform is not an event, but a process. He believes that Congress possesses the power to steer the economy in the right direction under the guise of reform.
Vice President Rahul Gandhi could not agree more that reform is at the top of the political agenda. 81-year-old Singh backs 43-year-old Gandhi as the next PM. Reform starts with both manufacturing and business industries. Gandhi declared at a recent rally that business and industrialization go hand and hand. He believes the two sectors will bridge the gap between the rich and poor.
Gandhi’s economic plan consists of capitalizing on job creation through manufacturing. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) represent the largest number of business organizations in India. President Naina Lal Kidwai backs the plan presented by Congress:
We have been supportive of the government’s policy and plan on manufacturing where they have focused on building large National Investment and Manufacturing Zones and industrial corridors that intend to provide world-class infrastructure to the manufacturing sector and create jobs for millions of people.
Rahul Gandhi does not have support from Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister. Sukhbir Singh Badal is completely against Gandhi becoming PM. Sukhbir claims, “This singular step would be sufficient to drown the sinking ship of Congress in the general elections.”
The Deputy Chief Minister has managed to create independent use of food security and power generation for the entire state. Punjab also has solid infrastructure.
Sukhbir’s wife, Bathinda Military Police Harsimrat Kaur Badal also disapproves of Congress. She believes the National Democratic Alliance is capable of providing development and growth. Harsimrat hopes the NDA beats Congress in the national election.
Singh stands behind UPA government’s performance. He announced during the news conference he feels they have maintained rapid growth in the economy. He states the indicators point to better performance than when NDA led the country.
Gandhi is Singh’s nominee to take his seat. Singh labels Gandhi as having the best credentials. He openly criticizes his opponent Narendra Modi. Singh calls Modi’s appointment as PM disastrous for the country. Modi is chief minister of Gujarat and head of the opposing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). More than 1,000 people died during anti-Muslim riots in his state in 2002. Modi faced allegations of not doing enough to stop the violence.
The BJP immediately lashed back at Singh’s comments against Modi’s leadership. BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad highlights corruption scandals in Congress as harming citizens.
Singh deems the last five months of his term a long period to improve the economy. He says that if this is accomplished, he’s done his job well. He also looks for history to be on his side, unlike opposition parties in Parliament and the press.
By Teria Seah