Manmohan gets presidential invite to form govt

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New Delhi

Manmohan Singh was on Wednesday appointed Prime Minister for a second consecutive term, for which he will be sworn-in on May 22, after the UPA coalition staked its claim to form the government with the backing of 322 MPs.

Apparently in view of the comfortable numbers the coalition has in the 543-member Lok Sabha, the President has not asked the Prime Minister to prove his strength in the House.

"I have pleasure to appoint you the Prime Minister and request you to advise me on the names of the others to be appointed to the council of ministers.

"I propose to administer the oath of office and secrecy to you on Friday, 22nd May 2009 at the Rashtrapati Bhawan at a mutually convenient time," President Pratibha Patil said in her letter handed over to Singh when he called on her along with UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

Reading out the President's letter, Singh said "you will come to know in due course of time" when asked whether MPs outside the pre-poll allies would included in the new ministry.

Gandhi and Singh called on the President after a meeting of the UPA attended only by leaders of Congress and its pre-poll allies at the 10 Janpath residence of the party President, who was re-elected coalition Chairperson.

She told reporters outside Rashtrapati Bhawan that as Chairperson of the Parliamentary Party in Parliament she has handed over a letter to the President stating that "the leader of the Parliamentary Party in Parliament to head the government is Dr Manmohan Singh. The President handed over the letter to Dr Manmohan Singh."

"My heartiest felicitations to you on being chosen as the Leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party. Having regard to the fact that you are the leader of the single largest party and the largest pre-poll formation, I have the pleasure to appoint you the Prime Minister and request you to advice on the names of the others to be appointed to the Council of Ministers," the President's letter said.

The Prime Minister said the coalition has 274 members including four independents who are part of the Congress-led pre-poll alliance.

"We have the support of SP, BSP and RJD whose number adds up to another 48. All this adds up to 322," he said.

Asked about details of composition of the ministry, Singh said "we will talk in greater detail later."

Rashtrapati Bhawan communique later said that Singh and Gandhi staked claim to form the government and handed over to the President letters of support extended to them by various political parties and others.

"The President having satisfied herself on the basis of the various letters of support received that the Congress-led UPA alliance, which is also the largest pre-election alliance, is in a position to command majority support of the newly-constituted 15th Lok Sabha and to form a stable government, appointed Dr Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister and requested him to indicate the members of the new Council of Ministers," it said.

The President will administer oaths of office and secrecy on Friday May 22 at a mutually convenient time which will be decided soon.

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