Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Monday, May 17, 2004
Government - Politics
Alliance endorses Sonia for PM
The Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, with leaders of Left parties and other allies at a meeting in the Capital on Sunday. Kamal Narang
New Delhi , May 16
IT'S official now. The allies of the Congress-led front on Sunday backed the Congress Parliamentary Party's decision of appointing Ms Sonia Gandhi as the Prime Minister of the country.
Addressing newspersons after a two-and-a-half-hour meeting, the Congress leader, Dr Manmohan Singh, said that Ms Gandhi's name for Prime Ministership was proposed by the DMK chief, Mr M. Karunanidhi, and was seconded by the Rashtriya Janata Dal President, Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav, the Nationalist Congress Party chief, Mr Sharad Pawar, along with the other leaders present at the meeting.
Dr Singh further added that no name has been given to the new secular alliance and said that the common minimum programme (CMP) is being worked out. The Congress will finalise this programme after consultations with the other parties.
Sonia may meet Kalam today: It was a busy Sunday for Ms Gandhi. The top brass of allies called on her to hand in letters of support and a joint meeting of all the allies followed by a dinner was being hosted at Ms Gandhi's 10, Janpath residence.
Ms Gandhi is expected to meet the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, on Monday to stake claim for the formation of the new Government.
The new Prime Minister and a small group of Ministers are expected to be sworn in on Wednesday.
Though the Left parties have not reached a consensus on whether to join the Government or only offer outside support, indications are that they may not be part of the new Government.
However, the CPI said that it would be submitting a letter to the President extending support to a Congress-led Government at the Centre.
Mr D. Raja, CPI leader, said that the party would participate in the meeting of the Congress allies and supporting parties at Gandhi's residence this evening.
There were differences among senior leaders of the Central Committee of the CPI (M). Senior party leader Mr Jyoti Basu said that discussions were taking place on a variety of issues ranging from the economic agenda, disinvestment and joining the Government.
Meanwhile, the highlight of today's evening meeting was the presence of the SP leader, Mr Amar Singh.
Neither the SP chief, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, nor the BSP chief, Ms Mayawati, were invited to the evening meeting or dinner, but Mr Harkishen Singh Surjeet of the CPI (M) decided to bring Mr Singh along with him to the meeting in an effort to group "secular" forces.
Political leaders such as the DMK chief, Mr M. Karunanidhi, met Ms Gandhi earlier in the day. The party has decided to support the coalition but not participate in it.
The other party from Tamil Nadu, Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), which won six Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, will participate in the Congress-led coalition Ministry.
Ms Gandhi also found support from Left-leaning intelligentsia, with more than 200 individuals, including journalists, artists, social activists, theatre and film personalities, asking the Left Parties to join the Government.
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