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Kalam invites Manmohan Singh to form govt Newsdesk | May 19, 2004 20:30 IST
Last Updated: May 20, 2004 01:28 IST

President A P J Abdul Kalam on Wednesday evening invited Manmohan Singh to form the next government at the Centre and take oath as the prime minister of India

The swearing in ceremony will take place onSaturday, May 22,at 1700 hours IST.

"Smt Sonia Gandhi and I have met the President yesterday and we had promised him that we would be coming back today with necessary documents of support," Singh said.

"Those supporting documents were made available to the Honourable President this evening and I am happy to inform that the President has invited me to form the next government."

"Sonia Gandhi is my leader. I would hate to be a substitute for Mrs Gandhi. Nobody can be a substitute for Sonia Gandhi," Dr Manmohan Singh told the Congress chief after being chosen by the party on Wednesday evening to become the country's next Prime Minister.

Speaking at the Congress Parliamentary Party meeting in the Central Hall of Parliament, he said, "The rare example of sacrifice set by Gandhi was in keeping with the highest standards of idealism that was generated during the freedom struggle."

"If I say thank you Madam, it will never be enough... (I) need an adequate expression of her gratefulness," Congress spokesman S Jaipal Reddy quoted Singh as saying.

Singh said he would 'exert his utmost to live up to the great trust reposed in me' by Gandhi.

Referring to Rajiv Gandhi's vision of making India a major global power in the 21st century, he said Congress could be legitimately proud of the 'historic achievements' during the regimes of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.

Reddy quoted Singh as saying he would try to fulfil his allotted role, he would continue to need the guidance and leadership of Sonia Gandhi as he was aware of his 'limitations'.

Singh said the service of the country meant to him what it had meant for Nehru 'serving the teeming millions of this country' -- and added it was his firm belief that 21st century would belong to India.

Observing the task of building India was 'far from complete' he said it would be complete only when 'every drop of tear from every eye is wiped out'.

Striking a personal note, he said he was born in a poor family and had supported his own education through scholarship in India and abroad. "I know, therefore, that India needs emancipation from war, want and exploitation."

"We shall move ahead. While moving ahead, we may falter but never give up," he said. "We as a country will prevail."

"I will work under the guidance and support of Sonia Gandhi," he said. "I know my limitations."

When asked whether he was a reluctant Prime Minister, Singh said, "The mandate of the people of India was to Sonia Gandhi as Prime Minister."

"We all persuaded her to accept the verdict of the people but she declined due to reasons spelt out by her in her statement," he said.

Singh's government will include representatives from RJD, PMK, which has six members in Lok Sabha, Ram Vilas Paswan's LJSP (4), JMM and the 16-member DMK, which changed its mind today and decided to join the Council of Ministers.

Sharad Pawar's NCP is yet to disclose its mind and other parties will extend support from outside.

As the news spread hundreds of Congress supporters, including many Sikhs, danced and distributed sweets as celebrations erupted outside the residence of Singh.

They shouted slogans like 'Manmohan Singh Zindabad' and 'Jo Bole So Nihal, Sath Sri Akal'.

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