Govt formation process underway

PTI | ByPress Trust of India, New Delhi
May 14, 2004 10:51 PM IST

The Govt formation process led by Congress is underway with Sonia holding talks with leaders of her allied parties.

The process of formation of the next Government led by Congress on Friday gathered momentum with Sonia Gandhi holding separate meetings with leaders of her allied parties including Sharad Pawar of Nationalist Congress Party, ahead of Saturday's Congress Parliamentary party meeting that is expected to elect her as its leader.

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Newly elected MPs of the Congress are arriving in the capital for Saturday's meeting in which her election as a leader, that could pave the way for becoming the Prime Minister, is a mere formality.

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RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav, the second largest party in the Congress alliance and who had since long projected her as Prime Minister, met Gandhi and expressed confidence that the Government would be firmly in place in the next four or five days.

"She is the natural choice for Prime Ministership," Laloo said.

Leaders of the Left Parties, including Surjeet and CPI General Secretary AB Bardhan, met informally on Saturday after which they dismissed Gandhi's foreign origin coming in the way of her becoming Prime Minister.

"Who else is there. Do you need a list," shot back Surjeet when reporters asked him if there was name other than Gandhi being considered.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar who parted ways with her on her foreign origin, met Gandhi today and later his party's Working Committee decided that they would go by the consensus of "other allies" on the leadership of the new government.

Asked if the consensus favours Gandhi as Prime Minster which the party had opposed earlier, NCP spokesman Praful Patel told reporters "NCP will go with whatever consensus emerges."

She also interacted with the Core group of senior party leaders including Manmohan Singh, Pranab Mukherjee, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Arjun Singh.

Gandhi is expected to meet veteran Marxist leader and former West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu on May 15.

Government formation apart, the Congress set in motion the process of drafting a Common Minimum Programme that would form the basis for the new coalition and made former Finance Minister Manmohan Singh head a committee to prepare the document.

As stocks markets crashed on account of fears of rolling back on reforms with statements by Left leaders sharply critical of the disinvestment process carried out by the NDA Government.

Manmohan Singh sought to douse the flames saying a healthy capital market was important for country's development and was not opposed to disinvestment per se.

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