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Who's meeting who in Delhi

May 14, 2004 13:07 IST
Last Updated: May 14, 2004 14:28 IST

A day after the National Democratic Alliance was routed in the general election, the Congress, Left parties and other 'likeminded' outfits on Tuesday began discussions to cobble up a government at the Centre.

At the heart of the talks was whether Congress president Sonia Gandhi, a woman whose origins are foreign, could become prime minister.

As the single largest party in the country, with 145 seats in the Lok Sabha, Congress leaders are backing her to become prime minister.

Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar set the ball rolling early morning when he called on Gandhi at her 10, Janpath residence.

Later Pawar, whose party won nine seats, said all prospective partners would decide in a day or two the issue of who would become PM.

"The issue did not come up during my meeting with her and no decision has been taken," he said.

He also said his party's working committee would decide whether to join the government, but made it clear that the NCP would help and support the Congress in providing a stable coalition.

A committee to draft a common minimum programme of the new coalition would be headed by Congress leader Dr Manmohan Singh and "all those who fought together and those who want to join the new coalition will sit together and discuss the issue and take a decision", he said.

At around the same time, Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh, who brings 36 Lok Sabha seats to the table, met Communist Party of India-Marxist veteran Harkishen Singh Surjeet.

Singh told reporters after the meeting: "The new government does not need us. If need arises, we will consider about it."

Later, Singh's boss Mulayam Singh Yadav met Pawar and Surjeet.

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