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India’s Prime Minister to hand over after election

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday ruled out serving another term after an election due by May and threw his support behind Nehru-Gandhi dynasty scion Rahul Gandhi to lead the country if their party wins the vote.

Singh, 81, has presided over India for a decade at the head of coalition governments led by the Congress party and was widely expected to step down.

(Read more: India's congress party punished in state elections)

Prakash Singh | AFP/Getty Images

Gandhi will have his work cut out if he's chosen to lead the Congress party into the election with corruption scandals, stubborn inflation and decade-low growth eroding support, opinion polls show.

"In a few months' time, after the general election, I will hand the baton over to a new prime minister," Singh said at a rare news conference, adding that a "new generation" would guide the country.

Singh said Gandhi, 43, should be the Congress party's prime ministerial candidate.

(Read more: Why a new government may not boost India's reform prospects)

"Rahul Gandhi has outstanding credentials to be nominated as the candidate and I hope our party will take that decision at an appropriate time."

The Congress is due to hold a top-level meeting on Jan. 17 and is expected to announce its candidate soon afterwards.

Whoever gets the nod will face off in the election against Narendra Modi, of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who is ahead in the opinion polls.

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