Manmohan Singh resigns, says India far stronger than a decade ago

New Delhi, May 17:  Ending a decade at the helm, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday submitted his resignation to President Pranab Mukherjee and, in his last address to the nation, said he was leaving India “a far stronger country in every respect than it was a decade ago”.

Manmohan Singh’s resignation came a day after the BJP routed the Congress in the Lok Sabha election.

But before tendering his resignation to President Pranab Mukherjee, Singh gave a brief televised farewell address to the nation where he acknowledged his debt to the country that empowered him, “an underprivileged child of partition”, to occupy the high office of prime minister and said he had tried to do his best in serving the country.

He said the just concluded national election, in which the Congress suffered its worst defeat, “deepened the foundations of our democratic polity” and its judgement should be respected by all.

In his address in both Hindi and English, he said he was confident about the future of India.

“I firmly believe that the emergence of India as a major powerhouse of the evolving global economy is an idea whose time has come. Blending tradition with modernity and unity with diversity, this nation of ours can show the way forward to the world. Serving this nation has been my privilege. There is nothing more that I could ask for,” he said.

Manmohan Singh, 81, who has helmed two successive United Progressive Alliance (UPA) governments since 2004, said when he was entrusted with the responsibility of leading the nation, “I entered upon it with diligence as my tool, truth as my beacon and a prayer that I might always do the right thing.

“Today, as I prepare to lay down office, I am aware that well before the final judgment that we all await from the Almighty, there is judgment in the court of public opinion that all elected officials and governments are required to submit themselves to.

“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 the past 10 years of United Progressive Alliance rule, the country has “seen many successes and achievements that we should be proud of.

“Today, India is a far stronger country in every respect than it was a decade ago. I give credit for these successes to all of you. However, there is still vast latent development potential in our country and we must collectively work hard to realize it.

“As I leave office, my abiding memory will be the love and kindness that I have always received from you. I owe everything to this country, this great land of ours where I, an underprivileged child of partition, was empowered enough to rise and occupy high office.

“It is both a debt that I will never be able to repay and a decoration that I will always wear with pride.

He wished “success” to the new government under BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who got a rousing welcome Saturday as he came to Delhi, a day after his party got an overwhelming majority in the general election.

“I wish the incoming government every success as it embarks on its task and pray for even greater successes for our nation,” Singh said.

After his short address, the prime minister met his cabinet for the last time.

At the cabinet meeting, all the ministers passed motions of thanks for the prime minister for helming the nation for a decade.

The prime minister, in turn, also passed a motion of thanks for his cabinet colleagues.

He then went to Rashtrapati Bhavan to submit his resignation in the afternoon. President Mukherjee, an old party and cabinet colleague of the prime minister, saw off Manmohan Singh.

Later, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath, who was just among the three cabinet ministers in the Manmohan Singh government who won this time, also met the president and asked for the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha.