Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Manmohan to be sworn in Friday, UPA claims support of 322 MPs

New Delhi: Congress leader Manmohan Singh will Friday be sworn in as prime minister of India for the second consecutive term after President Pratibha Patil invited him to head the government and asked him to advise her on the council of ministers.

Armed with the support of 322 MPs, including the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) met the president at Rashtrapati Bhavan Wednesday evening to stake claim to form a government.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who was re-elected to the post in the morning, said she handed over a letter to the president "stating that the leader of the parliamentary party to head the government is Dr Manmohan Singh".
After a short meeting lasting no more than 10 minutes, Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh addressed reporters at the forecourt of the presidential palace.
"I called on president to stake claim on formation of new government," Manmohan Singh said, disclosing that the president had proposed May 22 for the swearing in "at a mutually convenient time".
Giving details of how the numbers stacked up, he said: "We have 274 members who are part of the Congress and pre-poll alliance, also including four independents. The total number adds up to 274."
"We have support of Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal... they have another 48 MPs. This totals amounts to 322."
Manmohan Singh also read out Patil's congratulatory note felicitating him on him being chosen as the leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party.
The president said in her letter that she was acting on the fact that "yours is the single largest party and the largest pre-election alliance".
Patil told Manmohan Singh: "(I am) taking note of the letters of support enabling you to command majority support of the newly constituted 15th Lok Sabha, I have the pleasure to appoint you the prime minister and request you to advise me as to the names of others to be appointed members of council of ministers."
"I propose to administer the oath on May 22," she said in her letter.

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