Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to step down after election due in May
January 3, 2014 -- Updated 1117 GMT (1917 HKT)
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaks in New Delhi on April 16, 2012.
- "I will hand the baton over to a new prime minister," Singh says
- He has been in office for the governing Congress party since May 2004
- The party suffered a bruising defeat in regional elections last month
- Singh downplays accusations of corruption against his government
New Delhi (CNN) -- Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Friday that he will step down after his country's national elections due in May.
"In a few months' time, after the general election, I will hand the baton over to a new prime minister," Singh told a news conference in New Delhi.
The 81-year-old Oxford-educated Singh has been prime minister for India's governing Congress party since May 2004.
His move to rule himself out of the race for the top job in this year's general elections didn't surprise political observers.
His party suffered a bruising defeat in regional elections in December, billed by the country's news media as an indicator of political trends ahead of the upcoming national vote.
"There's nothing surprising about it.," said K.G. Suresh, a political commentator. "The way the Congress party failed in the semi-finals, it was a settled affair that Dr. Manmohan Singh will not be its face in the general elections."
A rash of corruption scandals has also undermined the reputation of Singh's coalition government over the past few years.
Asked if he ever thought of quitting his job, Singh said: "I never felt like resigning at any time. I have enjoyed doing my work. I have tried to do my work with all honesty, with all sense of integrity."
He sought to downplay allegations of corruption against his administration.
"I have every reason to believe when history is written of the period, we will come out unscathed," Singh said. "This is not to say there were no irregularities. There were irregularities, but the dimensions of the problems have been overstated by the media, by the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General), sometimes by other entities."
According to a damning report by India's national auditor, the CAG, the national treasury lost as much as $31 billion from the 2008 sale of the wireless frequencies.
The scandal rocked Singh's government during its second term, when it also struggled with accusations of large-scale fraud in the sports, real estate and coal sectors.
Singh, however, defended his government's record in fighting graft.
"We are deeply committed to the objective of combating corruption," he said. "An array of historical legislations has been enacted to make the work of the government transparent and accountable."
Part of complete coverage on
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 0626 GMT (1426 HKT)
A year ago, 1,000 garment workers died in the collapse of Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh. Here's a look at what has changed since then.
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 0453 GMT (1253 HKT)
Focus is on the fish as U.S. President starts tour with visit to legendary Tokyo restaurant.
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1723 GMT (0123 HKT)
Fireworks are fantastic and human endeavor has its place, but sometimes Mother Nature outshines any performance we can produce.
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 0306 GMT (1106 HKT)
In 1987, China sent its very first email. Here's what it said,
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 0213 GMT (1013 HKT)
The world's new fastest elevator will fling you from earth to the 95th floor before you're done reading this article.
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
In one U.S. state, a new bill will allow ordinary citizens to carry guns in all sorts of places. Does it make you feel safer?
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1410 GMT (2210 HKT)
In South Korea, volunteer divers are risking their lives to rescue victims of the sunken ferry.
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1915 GMT (0315 HKT)
Park Jee Young, 22, helped passengers escape as the Sewol ferry sank -- giving out life jackets while refusing to wear one herself.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1643 GMT (0043 HKT)
What did outgoing manager David Moyes get wrong in his six months with English Premier League football team Manchester United?
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1736 GMT (0136 HKT)
In honor of Shakespeare's birthday, here are 15 of the world's most amazing theaters.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1734 GMT (0134 HKT)
CNN exclusive: Australian officials are hammering out a new agreement for widening the Flight 370 search area.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1228 GMT (2028 HKT)
Malaysian officials sent to brief Chinese families are armed with little to no information.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1545 GMT (2345 HKT)
When a team of Indian surgeons opened up the stomach of a 63-year-old man, they had no idea they'd extract a fortune.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 0701 GMT (1501 HKT)
Do these photos CNN of gun-toting men wearing green uniforms prove Russian forces are in eastern Ukraine?
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1711 GMT (0111 HKT)
If the Duchess wears it, then your fashion career is sorted for life.
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 2315 GMT (0715 HKT)
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
Today's five most popular stories