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I am very happy: Sonia

May 20, 2004 01:25 IST

A relaxed and beaming Sonia Gandhi stood beside her trusted lieutenant Manmohan Singh on the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Wednesday evening, as he announced that President A P J Abdul Kalam had invited him to form government.

Singh, 71, did not forget to mention that the mandate was for Gandhi, who had declined to accept the prime minister's post despite being elected leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party.

"I feel humble and say that the nation has given us mandate and the mandate was for Sonia Gandhi," he said.

Gandhi looked on and agreed that she was relaxed. She articulated the "tremendous pressure" she was under for the last couple of days.

She said she was happy that the uncertainty about who would be PM was over.

"I had been under tremendous pressure from my colleagues, party workers and people across the country [to accept the post of PM]. So, naturally being under such pressure takes you down a bit. But now that everything is over, I am very happy. I think that the country will be safe in Dr Manmohan Singh's hands," she said.

It was Gandhi who drew Singh's attention to various questions being fired by the media.

Amidst continuous flash of camera bulbs and glare of TV lights, Singh mentioned why she did not take the post of the PM. "We have spent hours and days in persuading her to accept people's mandate. She felt that in the best interest of the country she would like the burden to be passed on to me."

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