New Delhi - Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced today he will not seek a third term after the parliamentary election in May and declared, in unexpectedly sharp terms, that BJP's Narendra Modi will be a disaster if he got to rule India.
"Without discussing the merits of Narendra Modi, I sincerely believe that it will be disastrous for the country to have Modi as the PM," he told the media here. "India does not want such a prime minister."
In the harshest criticism by him of the Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial nominee, Mr Manmohan Singh mocked at the Gujarat chief minister's credentials for the country's top job.
"If by strong prime minister you mean you preside over the massacre of innocents on the streets of Ahmedabad, that is not the kind of strength I will like to have."
In the same breath, the 81-year-old leader, who has been prime minister since 2004 at the head of a Congress-led UPA coalition, announced that "in a few months time, 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," he said. "I will not be a candidate for prime ministership after the election."
Mr Singh, whose government is facing a crisis of confidence and faced pointed questions on his performance and leadership, didn't say who will be the UPA's prime ministerial choice but rooted for Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.
"Rahul Gandhi has outstanding credentials to be nominated as the prime ministerial candidate, and I hope our party will take that decision at the appropriate time."