Sonia to meet Kalam

Updated on May 17, 2004 10:30 PM IST

President invited Cong chief for a meet early Tuesday to take govt formation forward.

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PTI | ByPress Trust of India, New Delhi

President APJ Abdul Kalam on Monday set in motion the process of putting in office a Congress-led coalition government by inviting Sonia Gandhi for discussions on it.

Manmohan Singh apprised a core team of Congress leaders and allies of the presidential letter and announced that she will meet the President on Tuesday morning.

Later on, after emerging out of the AICC headquarters after meeting the Congress president, CPI General Secertary AB Bardhan told reporters that Gandhi "will take oath of office on May 19."

Countering rumours about the Prime Ministerial candidate, Bardhan said a government headed by Gandhi "will be sworn-in on that day."

RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav and senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee also lambasted "those spreading rumours" and asserted that it was clear that the new government would be led by Sonia Gandhi. "There is no scope for any rumours now," Mukherjee said.

The Rashtrapati Bhavan is gearing itself up for the occasion and all the necessary formalities have been completed, official sources said.

Ashoka Hall as well as the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan are being prepared for the function.

On a day when the 36-member Samajwadi Party and three-member Rashtriya Lok Dal handed over to him their letters of support to the Sonia-led coalition, the President noted that the Congress with its pre-poll allies "is the largest political formation in the House (Lok Sabha)".

"The President having noted that Smt Sonia Gandhi has been elected leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party sent a letter at 5 PM on Monday requesting her to meet him "today evening or tomorrow morning for discussions as per her convenience," a Rashtrapati Bhavan communique said.

While the Congress and its prepoll allies secured 226 seats, it has already got letters of support from the Left parties combine who have 61 seats.

Meanwhile, Ahmed Patel, Political Secretary to the Congress President, told reporters after coming out of the party's Strategy Committee meeting Gandhi had convened at her residence, that she is not meeting the President today.

However, sources said senior leader Pranab Mukherjee may call on the President and convey to him the decision of Congress and its allies to elect her as the leader of the coalition to head the new government.

He may also handover to the President the letters of support given by the party's allies including the Left parties representing the backing of over 280 MPs.

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