Singh has no retirement plans

Says his unfinished task is to achieve 10 pc economic growth rate

Singh has no retirement plans

For this fiscal, he has forecast a growth of 8.5 per cent, up from 7.2 per cent in 2009-10. Inflation would also cool down to 5 to 6 per cent by year end, the prime minister said. “We expect 8.5 per cent growth in this financial year,” he said. “Given the country’s savings and investment rates, an annual growth rate of 10 per cent was an achievable target.”

Singh was addressing a press conference at Vigyan Bhavan on Monday to mark the first anniversary of UPA’s second term in power, when he was asked about his plans to retire.  “I have been given this task (of prime ministership). It is still unfinished. Till I finish the tasks, there is no question of retirement,” said the 78-year-old leader. However, if the Congress wanted to replace him with Rahul Gandhi or any other young leader, he would be happy to step down, Singh said.

“I feel younger people should take over. As and when the Congress makes that judgment, I will be very happy to make place for anybody chosen by the party,” he said, in response to a query on the possibility of Rahul taking over the top office before UPA’s term ended in 2014.

To Singh, Rahul was “very qualified” to join his Cabinet and he had talked to the young leader several times about it. But Rahul turned down the offer as he wanted to focus more on building the party.  “Whenever he (Rahul) is ready, he would be an appropriate addition to the Cabinet,” Singh said.

The prime minister also scotched speculation of differences between him and Sonia Gandhi as well as about the lack of coordination between the Congress and the government, saying, “there is not an iota of truth in it”.

During his 75-minute-long press conference, Singh answered questions on issues ranging from Naxalism, terrorism, Indo-Pak ties, economic growth and price rise.
His personal assessment of his performance was that “I could do better than what I have done”, though he was “reasonably satisfied” with the UPA government’s pace of work.

On a query that the economy was not in “good condition”, Singh said, “It is not correct to say so. Because of the global slowdown in 2008 many economies around the world suffered…. The past couple of years have been exceptionally difficult years for the Indian economy.”

Yet India performed better than most world economies, Singh said. Asked if rising inflation went against the ‘aam aadmi’, Singh said his government attached “the highest priority to contain inflation so that there is no distress to the common man”. Price rise, to him, “continue to be a matter of deep concern”.
                                                                                         

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