NEW DELHI, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has held the post for nearly 10 years, said he will leave office after elections this year.
The 81-year-old economist, who has led the Congress Party-ruled coalition regime since May 2004, told a Thursday news conference in New Delhi that Rahul Gandhi, scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family, has "outstanding credentials" to be the next prime minister if the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance wins a third term in the elections, which must by conducted by May.
The government has been hit by allegations of corruption and a number of scandals, and has been bogged down by economic problems.
In a prepared statement before the televised news conference, Singh said he has enormous confidence in the people's ability to deal with challenges at home.
"In a few months time, after the general election, I will hand the baton over to a new prime minister," he said. "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."
Singh's support of Gandhi was yet another indication the 43-year-old son of Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi will likely be declared as a candidate for prime minister.
Rahul Gandhi is now vice president of the party, which is likely to face an uphill task in the elections if various current poll results prove right.
The party's biggest threat is the Bharatiya Janata Party, the main opposition. Its prime ministerial candidate is Narendra Modi.