New Delhi: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh resigned yesterday, a day after the ruling Congress party was decimated by the main opposition BJP in the bitterly contested general elections.
The 81-year-old Prime Minister handed over his resignation to Indian President Pranab Mukherjee at the latter's official residence at Rashtapati Bhawan in the national capital, just minutes after holding his last Cabinet meeting at 11.30 a.m. (local time).
Singh, who was at the helm of the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government for two successive five-year terms, also recommended to the President the dissolution of the current Lok Sabha (the Lower House of Parliament) so as to make way for the new government. Earlier in the day, Singh addressed the nation, asserting that he always tried to do his best for the country, and urged the people to respect the judgement "that you have delivered".
"As I have said on many occasions, my life and tenure in public office are an open book. I have always tried to do my best in serving this great nation of ours," he said in a televised address to the nation.
Singh also thanked the people, of the country saying as an underprivileged child of India's partition, he owed his success to the country which gave him a chance to reach the highest office.
Congratulating the incoming government, he said: "Each one of us should respect the judgement that you have delivered. The just concluded elections have deepened the foundations of our democratic polity."
He added: "I wish the incoming government every success as it embarks on its task and pray for even greater successes for our nation." Singh, described as the architect of India's economic reforms in 1991, did not run for prime ministership this year as the Congress party was led by Nehru-Gandhi scion Rahul Gandhi.
But, his grand old party was routed by Narendra Modi-led BJP which secured majority on its own, crossing the halfway mark of 272, while the Congress managed to bag less than 45 seats in the polls. Though his personal integrity is impeccable, he has been described by his critics as "the weakest Prime Minister the country ever had".
He has also been blamed for turning a blind eye to a number of scams, including the telecom scam and coalgate, which surfaced during the UPA's second term in power.
Satrajit Moitra - Times of Oman correspondent