PM evasive on third term issue

New Delhi, April 15 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday said it is a "great honour" to be prime minister of this "vast" country, but was evasive on the issue of a third term in the post if his Congress party was re-elected in the 2014 general election.

"I have still some time to complete my present term," he said when asked whether he would accept a third term. He was speaking at an award ceremony organised by NDTV here to mark its 25 years.

The prime minister also said he considered prime ministership of the vast country as "a great honour" and he has made efforts to rise to the high expectations of the people.

Asked whether his remaining term was for "six months or one year", the prime minister said: "We will complete five years of our government", brushing aside speculation of an early Lok Sabha election.

Manmohan Singh, 80, who is serving a second term, has been at the helm for nine years. When he was asked whether he was in the election mode, he refused to answer, saying: "I am not going to answer any question."

The prime minister earlier said he was "not ruling it in, not ruling it out" on the issue of being at the helm of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government if it returned to power in next year's election.

He reiterated his government's resolve to empower women and make their lives safer that he and Congress president Sonia Gandhi had made in the wake of the Dec 16, 2012 Delhi gang-rape.

"There is a great deal more that needs to be done for making women safer and more secure in our country, and also for empowering them," he said.

The prime Minister said that the death of the Delhi gang-rape victim won't go in vain and the government will continue to make all possible efforts to empower women socially and economically.

"We should all pay tribute to her by resolving that we will not let the loss of her life go in vain. Her courage and her zest for life will always serve as an inspiration to us," the prime minister said, paying tribute to the Delhi gang-rape victim.

The gang-rape victim's mother and friend, who was also attacked by the accused, were also present at the event.

The 23-year-old woman was raped by a gang of five men and a juvenile on board a moving bus. Two weeks after the incident, she died in a Singapore hospital where she was flown for treatment.

After a public outrage, the government enacted an anti-rape law that ensures execution in rarest of rare cases of rape that lead to the victims' death.

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