NEW DELHI, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday ruled out a third term in office, and fiercely attacked opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi for "presiding over mass massacre of people in the streets" of Gujarat where the latter is chief minister.
At a press conference, Singh said he hopes a new prime minister from the incumbent Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) would come to power after the upcoming general election in May. He said he would hand over the baton to a new prime minister after the election.
He also hinted that Congress Vice President Nehru-Gandhi scion Rahul Gandhi could be soon nominated PM candidate by the UPA, saying that the latter has "outstanding" credentials to be PM candidate.
"In a few months' time, after the general election, I will hand the baton over to a new prime minister," said Singh. "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."
"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... I am confident that the new generation of our leaders will also guide this great nation successfully through the uncharted and uncertain waters of global change," he added.
On BJP candidate, Singh said he "sincerely" believed if the Gujarat chief minister became prime minister, it would be a " disaster" for 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 said in what is seen as his strongest attack upon the opposition leader.
He said he could not trust a man who "presided over mass massacres" in his own state to govern the country, in reference to the 2002 communal violence in Gujarat in which hundreds of Muslims were slaughtered by mobs allegedly supported by the state government.
Analysts say while the press conference, the third in Singh's 10-year-term, is seen as a farewell one to the nation, the prime minister also used it to send a very strong appeal for voters to support the Congress-led UPA in the coming election.
Singh also defended the performances of the UPA in bringing about economic and social development to India over the past 10 years, saying India for the first time had seen 9 percent growth rates of GDP since Independence, while the country saw tremendous achievement in reducing poverty, promoting health and education and agricultural development.
"The rate of growth achieved in the last nine years of UPA rule is the highest in any nine year period," Singh said adding that the growth process was made more inclusive than ever.
But he admitted that inflation remained unexpectedly high and adequate jobs were not created in the manufacturing sector during his tenure.
"I am concerned that we have not been as successful as we need to be in generating employment in the manufacturing sector. This is an aspect of performance which we are working hard to correct," he said.
"We need a much stronger effort in support of small and medium enterprises which can be a major source of good quality employment. Our manufacturing strategy gives high priority to this objective for the future," he added.
He denied some allegation of corruption against the Congress and himself, such as a so-called coal-gate scam, calling them " groundless."
The Congress lost in four key local legislative elections late last year, including that of the national capital region. The BJP won or led in all these elections.
Local media have widely criticized the Congress for corruption and failure to curb inflation as reasons for losing the local elections.