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Meira Kumar to be LS Speaker, Karia Munda Deputy Speaker

Former Union Minister Meira Kumar filed her nomination papers Tuesday for the post of Lok Sabha Speaker as she emerged as the consensus candidate of the ruling UPA and the opposition BJP for the coveted post.

Former Union Minister Meira Kumar today filed her nomination papers for the post of Lok Sabha Speaker as she emerged as the consensus candidate of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the coveted post.

Another former Union Minister, Mr Karia Munda of the BJP, is set to become the Deputy Speaker. Both are expected to be elected unopposed.

The election for the Speaker's post is scheduled to be held tomorrow after newly-elected members of the House took the oaths of affirmation on the first two days of the maiden session of the 15th Lok Sabha yesterday and today.

Mr Manikrao Gavit, 75, a Congress MP and the seniormost member of the House, is presiding over the proceedings as pro tem Speaker till a new Speaker is elected.

Ms Kumar was accompanied by Leader of the House and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee of the Congress, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), National Conference (NC) leader and Union Minister Farooq Abdullah and others when she submitted her papers to Lok Sabha Secretary General P D T Achary.

When the Congress had decided on Ms Kumar as its candidate for the Speaker's post last Saturday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had rung up BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani offering the main opposition part the Deputy Speaker's position, as per convention.

The BJP chose Mr Munda as its candidate for the post at a meeting of its Parliamentary Party this morning, the party's General Secretary Arun Jaitley told reporters

In all, 13 sets of nomination papers were filed for Ms Kumar's candidature, including one signed by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi as the proposer and Mr Mukherjee as the seconder. Another set had Mr Advani as the proposer and BJP Deputy Leader in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj as the seconder. Leaders of the NCP, the NC, the Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Indian Union Muslim League were amongst those who signed her nomination papers.

Mr Munda, 75, has an M.A. degree from the Ranchi University in Jharkhand. He has been elected to the Lok Sabha from Jharkhand's Khunti constituency, which is reserved for Scheduled Tribes. This is his seventh term in the Lower House of Parliament.

He had served as Minister of State for Steel and Mines in the Morarji Desai government in 1977-79. He worked as Union Minister for Agro and Rural Industries from September, 2001 to January, 2003 and later as the Coal Minister under then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Ms Kumar, who was sworn in as a Cabinet Minister on May 22 and had taken over the portfolio of Water Resources last Friday, resigned from the Union Council of Ministers on Sunday.

When Ms Kumar, 64, is elected, she will become the first woman to be hold the Lok Sabha Speaker's post.

Ms Kumar, the daughter of former Deputy Prime Minister Jagjivan Ram, is a prominent Dalit face of the Congress and a former officer of the Indian Foreign Service (IFS). She had served as the Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment in the previous UPA government.

She has a Master's degree in English and a degree in Law, as well as an advanced diploma in Spanish. This is her fifth term in the Lok Sabha. She has served on various parliamentary committees and has been a General Secretary of the Congress party and a member of its working committee.

She joined the IFS in 1973 and served in Indian missions in Madrid and London as well as in the Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi before resigning from the service in 1985 to join politics.

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Lok Sabha session begins, new MPs take oath

The 15th Lok Sabha began its first session today, with the newly-elected members, led by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Leader of Opposition Lal Krishna Advani, taking the oath of affirmation.

The 15th Lok Sabha, constituted after the recent General Elections, began its first session today, with the newly-elected members, led by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Leader of Opposition Lal Krishna Advani, taking the oath of affirmation.
President Pratibha Patil administering the oath of the office of Pro tem Speaker to Manikrao Gavit at Rashtrapati Bhavan today.
President Pratibha Patil administering the oath of the office of Pro tem Speaker to Manikrao Gavit at Rashtrapati Bhavan today.

Mr Manikrao Gavit, 75, a Congress MP and the seniormost member of the House, presided over the proceedings as pro tem Speaker.

Earlier this morning, Mr Gavit was sworn in as the pro tem Speaker by President Pratibha Patil at a ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhavan. Vice-President M Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were amongst those present at the function.

Mr Gavit is a nine-time member of the House and has experience of more than 27 years. He was Minister of State for Home in the previous UPA government.

In the House, Lok Sabha Secretary General P D T Achary tabled the list of elected members, after which Mr Gavit informed the members that the President had nominated senior MPs Basudeb Achariya (CPIM), Arjun Charan Sethi (BJD), Biren Singh Engti (Congress) and Sumitra Mahajan (BJP) to help him in presiding over the proceedings.

Mr Mukherjee and Mr Advani were the first two to take oath and sign the Roll of Members.

Dr Singh, a Rajya Sabha member, was present in the Lok Sabha at the start of the day's proceedings. They were followed by Congress President and UPA Chairperson and Ms Mahajan.

Among those present in the Speaker's Gallery to watch the proceedings were Ms Gandhi's daughter Priyanka Vadra and her husband Robert Vadra.

Mr Gavit informed the House that Samajwadi Party (SP) member Akhilesh Yadav, the son of the party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, had resigned from his Firozabad seat and that the resignation had been accepted. Mr Yadav had won from two seats, the second being Kannauj, which he has decided to retain.

The first two days of the session have been reserved for the swearing-in of the new members.
(L to R) Minister of State for PMO and Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions Prithviraj Chavan, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Pawan Kumar Bansal and other dignitaries at the swearing-in ceremony of Pro tem Speaker, at Rashtrapati Bhavan today.
(L to R) Minister of State for PMO and Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions Prithviraj Chavan, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Pawan Kumar Bansal and other dignitaries at the swearing-in ceremony of Pro tem Speaker, at Rashtrapati Bhavan today.

On June 3, the members will elect the new Speaker. The Congress has decided to nominate Ms Meira Kumar, who had only last Friday taken over as the Minister of Water Resources, for the post. While the party is yet to make a formal announcement on her candidature, Ms Kumar herself confirmed it to reporters on her way into the House this morning.

Ms Kumar's election to the post is now a foregone conclusion, given the strength that the ruling UPA commands in the House. In all probability, she will be elected unopposed. The UPA has already offered the Deputy Speaker's post to the BJP, the main opposition party, as per convention.

Ms Kumar resigned from the Council of Ministers yesterday and her resignation has been accepted by the President.
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh arrives at the Parliament to attend the 1st Session of 15th Lok Sabha today. Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Pawan Kumar Bansal, Minister of State, PMO and Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Prithviraj Chavan and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Planning, V. Narayanasamy are also seen.
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh arrives at the Parliament to attend the 1st Session of 15th Lok Sabha today. Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Pawan Kumar Bansal, Minister of State, PMO and Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Prithviraj Chavan and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Planning, V. Narayanasamy are also seen.

On June 4, the President will address a joint sitting of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, when she will unveil the UPA government's programmes and policies for its second straight five-year term in office.

In the remaining days of the session till June 9, the two Houses will take up discussion on and pass the motion of thanks to the President for her address.

Parliament will begin another session from the end of June when the UPA government will present the Union Budget for 2009-10. The previous government had presented only an interim budget and taken a vote on account till July 31, by when the budget must be passed.

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Sibal gets HRD, Commerce to Sharma, Road Transport and Highways for Kamal Nath

Mr Kapil Sibal was today named as India's new Minister for Human Resource Development (HRD), while Mr Anand Sharma has been appointed as the new Minister for Commerce.

Mr Kapil Sibal was today named as India's new Minister for Human Resource Development (HRD), while Mr Anand Sharma been appointed as the new Minister for Commerce.

Mr Kamal Nath, who held Commerce in the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, has been given Road Transport and Highways, an indicator of the importance Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attaches to this sector.
Kapil Sibal, HRD
Kapil Sibal
Human Resource Development
Anand Sharma, Commerce
Anand Sharma
Commerce
Kamal Nath, Road Transport and Highways
Kamal Nath
Road Transport and Highways

An official statement from the Prime Minister's Office said Dr Singh had recommended to the President that Mr Virbhadra Singh be given charge of Steel, Mr Vilasrao Deshmukh be allocated Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises and Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad be put in charge of Health and Family Welfare.
Virbhadra Singh, Steel
Virbhadra Singh
Steel
Vilasrao Deshmukh, Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises
Vilasrao Deshmukh
Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises
Ghulam Nabi Azad, Health and Family Welfare
Ghulam Nabi Azad
Health and Family Welfare

Mr Sushil Kumar Shinde will continue to handle Power, the portfolio he had in the previous UPA government. Similarly, Mr S Jaipal Reddy will continue to look after Urban Development and Mr Vayalar Ravi will remain in charge of Overseas Indian Affairs.
Sushilkumar Shinde, Power
Sushilkumar Shinde
Power
Jaipal Reddy, Urban Development
Jaipal Reddy
Urban Development
Vayalar Ravi, Overseas Indian Affairs
Vayalar Ravi
Overseas Indian Affairs

Mr Veerappa Moily has been named as the new Minister of Law and Justice while Dr Farooq Abdullah has been given New and Renewable Energy.

Mrs Meira Kumar will be the new Minister of Water Resources, while Mr Dayanidhi Maran will handle Textiles. Mr A Raja will continue to look after Communications and Information Technology while Mrs Ambika Soni becomes the new Minister for Information and Broadcasting. Mr Murli Deora will retain Petroleum and Natural Gas. Mr M K Azhagiri gets Chemicals and Fertilisers.
Veerappa Moily, Law and Justice
Veerappa Moily
Law and Justice
Dr. Farooq Abdullah, New and Renewable Energy
Dr. Farooq Abdullah
New and Renewable Energy
Meira Kumar, Water Resources
Meira Kumar
Water Resources

Dr Singh has recommended Labour and Employment for Mr Mallikarjun Kharge, Mines and Development of North Eastern Region for Mr B K Handique, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj for Mr C P Joshi, Shipping for Mr G K Vasan and Parliamentary Affairs for Mr Pavan Kumar Bansal.

The Ministry of Tourism will go to Ms Selja, who will also continue to look after Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, the portfolio she had in the previous ministry as Minister of State (Independent Charge).

Similarly, Dr M S Gill will continue to look after Youth Affairs and Sports as Cabinet Minister and Mr Subodh Kant Sahay has been elevated in his old ministry of Food Processing Industries.

Mr Mukul Wasnik gets Social Justice and Empowerment, while Mr Kantilal Bhuria has been given Tribal Affairs.

Dr Singh had taken oath of office and secrecy along with 19 Cabinet Ministers last Friday after the just-concluded elections to the Lok Sabha gave the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) a clear and decisive mandate.

Thanks to wrangling between the Congress and some of the allies, especially the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), over the number of ministerial berths and the portfolios for them, the initial lot of 19 ministers were mostly from the Congress. The only two ministers from other parties sworn in on Friday were Mr Sharad Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Ms Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress (TC).

The Prime Minister was also able to allocate portfolios to only six of those 19 ministries, pending an understanding on the issue with the allies. Accordingly, Mr Pranab Mukherjee got Finance, Mr P Chidamabaram was made Home Minister again and Mr S M Krishna became the new External Affairs Minister.

Mr Pawar continues as Minister for Agriculture, Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution while Ms Banerjee got the coveted Railways Ministry. Mr A K Antony continued as Defence Minister.

Today's allocation of portfolios takes care of the assignments of the 13 remaining ministers sworn in on Friday as well as the 59 ministes brought in today. They include 14 Cabinet Ministers, seven Ministers of State with Independent Charge and 38 Ministers of State. With today's expansion, the strength of the Manmohan Singh ministry has gone up to 79, just two short of legally permissible limit of 81. The ministry now has 33 Cabinet Ministers, seven Ministers of State with Independent Charge and 38 Ministers of State.

Apart from the Prime Minister, the swearing-in ceremony was attended by, among others, Vice-President M Hamid Ansari, Congress President and ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, several of the cabinet ministers sworn in last week, former Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi.

Cabinet Ministers who took oath on Friday and got their portfolios today are Mr Azad, Mr Moily, Mr Shinde, Mr Reddy, Mr Kamal Nath, Mr Ravi, Mrs Meira Kumar, Mr Deora, Mr Sibal, Ms Soni, Mr Handique, Mr Sharma and Mr Joshi.

Mr Sharma and Mr Handique were ministers of state in the previous ministry and have been elevated to cabinet rank in the new government.

Among the Ministers of State (Independent Charge), Mr Praful Patel will continue to look after Civil Aviation while Mr Prithviraj Chavan has been given Science and Technology and Earth Sciences. Mr Chavan will also continue as Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office. He will also handle Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions as well as Parliamentary Affairs.

Mr Sriprakash Jaiswal will look after Coal as well as Statistics and Programme Implementation, while Mr Salman Khursheed has been given charge of Corporate Affairs as well as Minority Affairs.

Mr Dinsha J Patel will handle Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, while Ms Krishna Tirath has got Women and Child Development.

Mr Jairam Ramesh has got independent charge of the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

Among the Ministers of State, former UN Under Secretary General Shashi Tharoor and Ms Preneet Kaur have been given External Affairs.

The following are the portfolios of the Ministers of State:

1. Srikant Jena - Chemicals and Fertilizers
2. E. Ahamed - Railways
3. Mullappally Ramachandran - Home Affairs
4. V. Narayansamy - Planning, Parliamentary Affairs
5. Jyotiraditya Scindia - Commerce and Industry
6. D. Purandeswari - Human Resource Development
7. K.H. Muniyappa - Railways
8. Ajay Maken - Home Affairs
9. Panabaka Lakshmi - Textiles
10.Namo Narain Meena - Finance
11. M.M. Pallam Raju - Defence
12. Saugata Ray - Urban Development
13. S.S. Palanimanickam - Finance
14. Jitin Prasad - Petroleum and Natural Gas
15. A. Sai Prathap - Steel
16. Preneet Kaur - External Affairs
17. Gurudas Kamat - Communications and Information Technology
18. Harish Rawat - Labour and Employment
19. K.V. Thomas - Agriculture, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution
20. Bharatsinh Solanki - Power
21. Mahadev S. Khandela - Road Transport and Highways
22. Dinesh Trivedi - Health and Family Welfare
23. Sisir Adhikari - Rural Development
24. Sultan Ahmed - Tourism
25. Mukul Roy - Shipping
26. Mohan Jatua - Information and Broadcasting
27. D. Napoleon - Social Justice and Empowerment
28. S. Jagathrakshakan - Information and Broadcasting
29. S. Gandhiselvan - Health and Family Welfare
30. Tusharbhai Chaudhary - Tribal Affairs
31. Sachin Pilot - Communications and Information Technology
32. Arun Yadav - Youth Affairs and Sports
33. Pratik Prakashbapu Patil - Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises
34. R.P.N. Singh - Road Transport and Highways
35. Shashi Tharoor - External Affairs
36. Vincent Pala - Water Resources
37. Pradeep Jain - Rural Development
38. Agatha Sangma - Rural Development

Of the new Cabinet Ministers sworn in today, Mr Deshmukh is a former Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Dr Abdullah has been Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and Mr Virbhadra Singh that of Himachal Pradesh.

Three nominees of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam---former ministers Dayanidhi Maran and A Raja---and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's son M K Azhagiri were amongst those sworn in as Cabinet Ministers.

Ms Selja, Mr Sahay, Mr Bansal, Mr Gill, Mr Bhuria and Mr Vasan were Ministers of State in the previous UPA government and find themselves elevated to Cabinet rank this time. Mr Wasnik is making a comeback to the Union Ministry after nearly 12 years, having served as Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports and for Parliamentary Affairs in 1993-96 in the Narasimha Rao government.

Mr Kharge has served as Minister in the Karnataka government, handling various ministries, and also been president of the Karnataka unit of the Congress.

Of the Ministers of State with Independent Charge, Mr Praful Patel had the same rank in the previous government. Mr Chavan, Mr Jaiswal, Mr Dinsha Patel and Mr Jairam Ramesh were Ministers of State in the earlier government and have been given independent charge this time. Mr Salman Khursheed has served as Minister of State for External Affairs and also held other portfolions in the 1990s. Ms Tirath, elected from Delhi, is making her debut in the Union Council of Ministers.

Mr Scindia and Mr Prasada, part of the young brigade in the Congress, were ministers of state in the previous UPA government. Mr Pilot, another young MP, is the son of the late Congress leader Rajesh Pilot.

Mr Ahamed, Mrs Purandeswari, Mrs Panabaka Laksmi, Mr Maken, Mr Meena and Mr Pallam Raju were part of the previous Manmohan Singh Ministry.

Mr Jena, Mr Ramachandran and Prof Thomas have served in the Union Government before.

Mr Kamat is a former president of the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee and former Youth Congress chief, while Ms Agatha Sangma is the daughter of former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno Sangma.

The expansion of the ministry was widely expected to be carried out on Tuesday but it was put off, apparently because, among other things, leaders of the Trinamool Congress (TC), a key ally of the Congress in the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), were busy with relief operations in cyclone-hit West Bengal.

Sources said that, apart from this, the UPA leadership also needed more time to reconcile the various claims for ministerial berths, both from within the Congress and from the allies.

Earlier this week, the Congress and the DMK sorted out differences between them on the number of ministerial berths and the portfolios to be allotted to the latter.

The Congress ended up with 206 seats in the Lok Sabha in the elections. The next largest party in the UPA is the TC with 19 seats, followed by the DMK with 18. In all, the UPA has 274 seats in the Lok Sabha. The number of MPs supporting it, including those who have pledged support from the outside, is 322.

Those extending support from outside include Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Samajwadi Party (SP) of Mulayam Singh Yadav and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of Lalu Prasad Yadav.

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Manmohan Singh inducts 59 new ministers

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday expanded his Council of Ministers by inducting 59 new ministers, including former Chief Ministers Vilasrao Deshmukh, Farooq Abdullah and Virbhadra Singh, taking the strength of his ministry to 79.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today expanded his Council of Ministers by inducting 59 new ministers, including former Chief Ministers Vilasrao Deshmukh, Farooq Abdullah and Virbhadra Singh, taking the strength of his ministry to 79.
President Pratibha Patil, Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh alongwith the Union Council of Ministers after the Swearing-in Ceremony, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi today.
President Pratibha Patil, Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh alongwith the Union Council of Ministers after the Swearing-in Ceremony, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi today.

The new ministers were administered the oaths of office and secrecy by President Pratibha Patil at a ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The new ministers include 14 Cabinet Ministers, seven Ministers of State with Independent Charge and 38 Ministers of State.

Dr Singh had been sworn in for his second consecutive five-year term, along with 19 Cabinet Ministers, last Friday. With today's expansion, the strength of the Union Council of Ministers has gone up to 79, including 33 Cabinet Ministers, seven Ministers of State with Independent Charge and 38 Ministers of State. The upper limit on the number of ministers at the Centre is 81 under the law

Apart from the Prime Minister, the ceremony was attended by, among others, Vice-President M Hamid Ansari, Congress President and ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, several of the cabinet ministers sworn in last week, former Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi.
Virbhadra Singh
Virbhadra Singh
Vilasrao Deshmukh
Vilasrao Deshmukh
Dr. Farooq Abdullah
Dr. Farooq Abdullah
Dayanidhi Maran
Dayanidhi Maran
A Raja
A Raja
Mallikarjun Kharge
Mallikarjun Kharge
Kumari Selja
Ms. Selja
Subodh Kant Sahay
Subodh Kant Sahay
Dr. M S Gill
Dr. M S Gill
G K Vasan
G K Vasan
Pawan Kumar Bansal
Pawan Kumar Bansal
Mukul Wasnik
Mukul Wasnik
Kantilal Bhuria
Kantilal Bhuria
M K Azhagiri
M K Azhagiri
Praful Patel
Praful Patel
Prithviraj Chauhan
Prithviraj Chauhan
Shriprakash Jaiswal
Shriprakash Jaiswal
Salman Khursheed
Salman Khursheed
Dinsha Patel
Dinsha Patel
Jairam Ramesh
Jairam Ramesh
Krishna Tirath
Krishna Tirath
E Ahamed
E Ahamed
V Narayanswamy
V Narayanswamy
Srikant Jena
Srikant Jena
Mullappally Ramachandran
Mullappally Ramachandran
D Purandeswari
D Purandeswari
Panabaka Lakshmi
Panabaka Lakshmi
Ajay Maken
Ajay Maken
K H Muniyappa
K H Muniyappa
Namo Narain Meena
Namo Narain Meena
Jyotiraditya Scindia
Jyotiraditya Scindia
Jitin Prasada
Jitin Prasada
Sai Prathap Annayyagari
Sai Prathap Annayyagari
Gurudas Kamat
Gurudas Kamat
M M Pallam Raju
M M Pallam Raju
Harish Rawat
Harish Rawat
K V Thomas
K V Thomas
Dinesh Trivedi
Dinesh Trivedi
Mukul Roy
Mukul Roy
S S Palanimanickam
S S Palanimanickam
Preneet Kaur
Preneet Kaur
Sachin Pilot
Sachin Pilot
Shashi Tharoor
Shashi Tharoor
Bharatsinh Solanki
Bharatsinh Solanki
Tushar Chaudhary
Tushar Chaudhary
Arun Yadav
Arun Yadav
Prateek Patil
Prateek Patil
Bharatsinh Solanki
Agatha Sangma

The following is the list of ministers sworn in today:

Cabinet Ministers:

1. Mr Virbhadra Singh
2. Mr Vilasrao Deshmukh
3. Dr. Farooq Abdullah
4. Mr Dayanidhi Maran
5. Mr A Raja
6. Mr Mallikarjun Kharge
7. Ms Selja
8. Mr Subodh Kant Sahay
9. Dr M S Gill
10. Mr G K Vasan
11. Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal
12. Mr Mukul Wasnik
13. Mr Kantilal Bhuria
14. Mr M K Azhagiri

Ministers of State with Independent Charge:

1. Mr Praful Patel
2. Mr Prithviraj Chauhan
3. Mr Sriprakash Jaiswal
4. Mr Salman Khursheed
5. Mr Dinsha Patel
6. Mr Jairam Ramesh
7. Mrs Krishna Tirath

Ministers of State:

1. Mr E Ahamed
2. Mr V Narayanasamy
3. Mr Srikant Jena
4. Mr Mullappally Ramachandran
5. Mrs D Purandeswari
6. Mrs Panabaka Lakshmi
7. Mr Ajay Maken
8. Mr K H Muniyappa
9. Mr Namo Narain Meena
10. Mr Jyotiraditya Scindia
11. Mr Jitin Prasad
12. Mr A Sai Prathap
13. Mr Gurudas Kamat
14. Mr M M Pallam Raju
15. Mr Mahadev Khandela
16. Mr Harish Rawat
17. Prof. K V Thomas
18. Mr Saugata Ray
19. Mr Dinesh Trivedi
20. Mr Sisir Adhikari
21. Mr Sultan Ahmed
22. Mr Mukul Roy
23. Mr Mohan Jatua
24. Mr S S Palanimanickam
25. Mr D Napoleon
26. Dr. S Jagathrakshakan
27. Mr S Gandhiselvan
28. Mrs Preneet Kaur
29. Mr Sachin Pilot
30. Mr Shashi Tharoor
31. Mr Bharatsinh Solanki
32. Mr Tusharbhai Chaudhary
33. Mr Arun Yadav
34. Mr Prateek Prakashbapu Patil
35. Mr R P N Singh
36. Mr Vincent Pala
37. Mr Pradeep Jain
38. Ms. Agatha Sangma

Only six of the 19 ministers sworn in on Friday have so far been allotted portfolios. They are Mr Pranab Mukherjee (Finance), Mr P Chidambaram (Home), Mr A K Antony (Defence), Mr S M Krishna (External Affairs), Mr Pawar (Agriculture, Food Processing, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution) and Ms Banerjee (Railways).

The delay in allocating portfolios to the others gives some indication of the difficulties that Dr Singh has had in finalising the ministry.

Others who took oath on Friday included former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and former Karnataka Chief Minister M Veerappa Moily.

The cabinet also includes Mr Sushil Kumar Shinde, Mr S Jaipal Reddy, Mr Kamal Nath, Mr Vayalar Ravi, Ms Meira Kumar, Mr Murli Deora, Mr Kapil Sibal, Ms Ambika Soni, Mr B K Handique, Mr Anand Sharma---all ministers in the previous ministry-- and Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee chief C P Joshi.

Mr Sharma and Mr Handique were ministers of state in the previous ministry and have been elevated to cabinet rank in the new government.

All the remaining portfolios, including those for the ministers sworn in today, are expected to be announced later today.

Of the new Cabinet Ministers sworn in today, Mr Deshmukh is a former Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Dr Abdullah has been Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and Mr Virbhadra Singh that of Himachal Pradesh.

Three nominees of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam---former ministers Dayanidhi Maran and A Raja---and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's son M K Azhagiri were amongst those sworn in as Cabinet Ministers.

Ms Selja, Mr Sahay, Mr Bansal, Mr Gill, Mr Bhuria and Mr Vasan were Ministers of State in the previous UPA government and find themselves elevated to Cabinet rank this time. Mr Wasnik is making a comeback to the Union Ministry after nearly 12 years, having served as Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports and for Parliamentary Affairs in 1993-96.

Mr Kharge has served as Minister in the Karnataka government, handling various ministries, and also been president of the Karnataka unit of the Congress.

Of the Ministers of State with Independent Charge, Mr Praful Patel had the same rank in the previous government. Mr Chavan, Mr Jaiswal, Mr Dinsha Patel and Mr Jairam Ramesh were Ministers of State in the earlier government and have been given independent charge of their assignments this time. Mr Salman Khursheed has served as Minister of State for External Affairs and also held other portfolions in the 1990s. Ms Tirath, elected from Delhi, is making her debut in the Union Council of Ministers.

Among the Ministers of State, Mr Shashi Tharoor, elected from Thiruvananthapuram, is a former Under-Secretary General of the United Nations.

Mr Scindia and Mr Prasada, part of the young brigade in the Congress, were part of the previous UPA government. Mr Pilot, another young MP, is the son of the late Congress leader Rajesh Pilot.

Mr Ahamed, Mrs Purandeswari, Mrs Panaba Laksmi, Mr Maken, Mr Meena and Mr Pallam Raju were part of the previous Manmohan Singh Ministry.

Mr Jena, Mr Ramachandran and Prof Thomas have served in the Union Government before.

Mr Kamat is a former president of the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee and former Youth Congress chief, while Ms Agatha Sangma is the daughter of former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno Sangma.
Virbhadra Singh
Virbhadra Singh
Vilasrao Deshmukh
Vilasrao Deshmukh
Dr. Farooq Abdullah
Dr. Farooq Abdullah
Dayanidhi Maran
Dayanidhi Maran
A Raja
A Raja
Mallikarjun Kharge
Mallikarjun Kharge
Kumari Selja
Ms. Selja
Subodh Kant Sahay
Subodh Kant Sahay
Dr. M S Gill
Dr. M S Gill
G K Vasan
G K Vasan
Pawan Kumar Bansal
Pawan Kumar Bansal
Mukul Wasnik
Mukul Wasnik
Kantilal Bhuria
Kantilal Bhuria
M K Azhagiri
M K Azhagiri
 
The Cabinet Ministers taking their oaths.
 

The expansion of the ministry was widely expected to be carried out on Tuesday but it was put off, apparently because, among other things, leaders of the Trinamool Congress (TC), a key ally of the Congress in the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), were busy with relief operations in cyclone-hit West Bengal.

Sources said that, apart from this, the UPA leadership also needed more time to reconcile the various claims for ministerial berths, both from within the Congress and from the allies.

Earlier this week, the Congress and the DMK sorted out differences between them on the number of ministerial berths and the portfolios to be allotted to the latter. As part of the understanding, it is learnt that Mr Maran will probably get the Textiles Ministry, with Chemicals and Fertilisers for Mr Azhagiri and Information Technology and Communications again for Mr Raja.

Mr Maran is a grand-nephew of Mr Karunanidhi and had held the IT and Communications portfolio for some time in the previous UPA government before Mr Karunanidhi pulled him out about two years ago because of serious differences within the family, which have since been sorted out.

As many as 64 ministers were expected to be sworn in with Dr Singh last Friday but, as it turned out, only 19 took oath because of the delay in hammering out a solution with the DMK.

As many as 17 of the 19 Cabinet Ministers who were sworn in on Friday are from the Congress. Mr Sharad Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Ms Mamata Banerjee (TC) were the only two representatives of the Congress' allies to take oath on that day.

The Congress ended up with 206 seats in the Lok Sabha in the just-concluded elections. The next largest party in the UPA is the TC with 19 seats, followed by the DMK with 18. In all, the UPA has 274 seats in the Lok Sabha. The number of MPs supporting it, including those who have pledged support from the outside, is 322.

Those extending support from outside include Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Samajwadi Party (SP) of Mulayam Singh Yadav and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of Lalu Prasad Yadav.

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PM expands Council of Ministers

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Council of Ministers was expanded when President Pratibha Patil administered the oaths of office and secrecy to the new ministers at a ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhavan here today.

Virbhadra Singh
Virbhadra Singh
Vilasrao Deshmukh
Vilasrao Deshmukh
Dr. Farooq Abdullah
Dr. Farooq Abdullah
Dayanidhi Maran
Dayanidhi Maran
A Raja
A Raja
Mallikarjun Kharge
Mallikarjun Kharge
Kumari Selja
Ms. Selja
Subodh Kant Sahay
Subodh Kant Sahay
Dr. M S Gill
Dr. M S Gill
G K Vasan
G K Vasan
Pawan Kumar Bansal
Pawan Kumar Bansal
Kantilal Bhuria
Kantilal Bhuria
Praful Patel
Praful Patel
Prithviraj Chauhan
Prithviraj Chauhan
Shriprakash Jaiswal
Shriprakash Jaiswal
Dinsha Patel
Dinsha Patel
Krishna Tirath
Krishna Tirath
E Ahamed
E Ahamed
V Narayanswamy
V Narayanswamy
D Purandeswari
D Purandeswari
Namo Narain Meena
Namo Narain Meena
Jyotiraditya Scindia
Jyotiraditya Scindia
Jitin Prasada
Jitin Prasada
Sai Prathap Annayyagari
Sai Prathap Annayyagari
Gurudas Kamat
Gurudas Kamat
M M Pallam Raju
M M Pallam Raju
Mukul Roy
Mukul Roy
S S Palanimanickam
S S Palanimanickam
Preneet Kaur
Preneet Kaur
Sachin Pilot
Sachin Pilot
Shashi Tharoor
Shashi Tharoor
Bharatsinh Solanki
Bharatsinh Solanki
Tushar Chaudhary
Tushar Chaudhary
Arun Yadav
Arun Yadav
Prateek Patil
Prateek Patil
Bharatsinh Solanki
Agatha Sangma
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Council of Ministers was expanded when President Pratibha Patil administered the oaths of office and secrecy to 59 new ministers at a ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhavan here today.

The swearing-in ceremony began at 1130 hours.

The new ministers include 14 Cabinet Ministers, seven Ministers of State with Independent Charge and 38 Ministers of State.

Dr Singh had been sworn in for his second consecutive five-year term, along with 19 Cabinet Ministers, last Friday.

The following are the names recommended by the Prime Minister to the President for inclusion in the Council of Ministers:

Cabinet Ministers:

1. Mr Virbhadra Singh
2. Mr Vilasrao Deshmukh
3. Dr. Farooq Abdullah
4. Mr Dayanidhi Maran
5. Mr A Raja
6. Mr Mallikarjun Kharge
7. Ms Selja
8. Mr Subodh Kant Sahay
9. Dr M S Gill
10. Mr G K Vasan
11. Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal
12. Mr Mukul Wasnik
13. Mr Kantilal Bhuria
14. Mr M K Azhagiri

Ministers of State with Independent Charge:

1. Mr Praful Patel
2. Mr Prithviraj Chauhan
3. Mr Sriprakash Jaiswal
4. Mr Salman Khursheed
5. Mr Dinsha Patel
6. Mr Jairam Ramesh
7. Mrs Krishna Tirath

Ministers of State:

1. Mr E Ahamed
2. Mr V Narayanasamy
3. Mr Srikant Jena
4. Mr Mullappally Ramachandran
5. Mrs D Purandeswari
6. Mrs Panabaka Lakshmi
7. Mr Ajay Maken
8. Mr K H Muniyappa
9. Mr Namo Narain Meena
10. Mr Jyotiraditya Scindia
11. Mr Jitin Prasad
12. Mr A Sai Prathap
13. Mr Gurudas Kamat
14. Mr M M Pallam Raju
15. Mr Mahadev Khandela
16. Mr Harish Rawat
17. Prof. K V Thomas
18. Mr Saugata Ray
19. Mr Dinesh Trivedi
20. Mr Sisir Adhikari
21. Mr Sultan Ahmed
22. Mr Mukul Roy
23. Mr Mohan Jatua
24. Mr S S Palanimanickam
25. Mr D Napoleon
26. Dr. S Jagathrakshakan
27. Mr S Gandhiselvan
28. Mrs Preneet Kaur
29. Mr Sachin Pilot
30. Mr Shashi Tharoor
31. Mr Bharatsinh Solanki
32. Mr Tusharbhai Chaudhary
33. Mr Arun Yadav
34. Mr Prateek Prakashbapu Patil
35. Mr R P N Singh
36. Mr Vincent Pala
37. Mr Pradeep Jain
38. Ms. Agatha Sangma

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Ministry expansion tomorrow, 59 ministers to be inducted

PM Manmohan Singh will carry out the much-awaited expansion of his new Council of Ministers by inducting 59 ministers, including former CMs Vilasrao Deshmukh, Farooq Abdullah and Virbhadra Singh.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will carry out the much-awaited expansion of his new Council of Ministers by inducting 59 ministers, including former chief ministers Vilasrao Deshmukh, Farooq Abdullah and Virbhadra Singh.

Three nominees of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam---former ministers Dayanidhi Maran and A Raja---and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's son M K Azhagiri will also be included in the cabinet.

The new ministers will be sworn in by President Pratibha Patil at 1130 hours at a ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The new ministers will include 14 Cabinet Ministers, seven Ministers of State with Independent Charge and 38 Ministers of State, an official announcement said.

Dr Singh had been sworn in for his second consecutive five-year term, along with 19 Cabinet Ministers, last Friday. With tomorrow's expansion, the strength of the Union Council of Ministers will go up to 79, including 33 Cabinet Ministers, seven Ministers of State with Independent Charge and 38 Ministers of State.

The following are the names recommended by the Prime Minister to the President for inclusion in the Council of Ministers:

Cabinet Ministers:
Virbhadra Singh
Virbhadra Singh
Dr. Farooq Abdullah
Dr. Farooq Abdullah
Dayanidhi Maran
Dayanidhi Maran
A Raja
A Raja
Kumari Selja
Ms. Selja
Subodh Kant Sahay
Subodh Kant Sahay
Dr. M S Gill
Dr. M S Gill
G K Vasan
G K Vasan
Pawan Kumar Bansal
Pawan Kumar Bansal
Kantilal Bhuria
Kantilal Bhuria
Praful Patel
Praful Patel
Prithviraj Chauhan
Prithviraj Chauhan
Shriprakash Jaiswal
Shriprakash Jaiswal
Dinsha Patel
Dinsha Patel
Krishna Tirath
Krishna Tirath
V Narayanswamy
V Narayanswamy
Namo Narain Meena
Namo Narain Meena
Jyotiraditya Scindia
Jyotiraditya Scindia
Jitin Prasada
Jitin Prasada
Sai Prathap Annayyagari
Sai Prathap Annayyagari


1. Mr Virbhadra Singh
2. Mr Vilasrao Deshmukh
3. Dr. Farooq Abdullah
4. Mr Dayanidhi Maran
5. Mr A Raja
6. Mr Mallikarjun Kharge
7. Ms Selja
8. Mr Subodh Kant Sahay
9. Dr M S Gill
10. Mr G K Vasan
11. Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal
12. Mr Mukul Wasnik
13. Mr Kantilal Bhuria
14. Mr M K Azhagiri

Ministers of State with Independent Charge:

1. Mr Praful Patel
2. Mr Prithviraj Chauhan
3. Mr Sriprakash Jaiswal
4. Mr Salman Khursheed
5. Mr Dinsha Patel
6. Mr Jairam Ramesh
7. Mrs Krishna Tirath

Ministers of State

1. Mr E Ahamed
2. Mr V Narayanasamy
3. Mr Srikant Jena
4. Mr Mullappally Ramachandran
5. Mrs D Purandeswari
6. Mrs Panabaka Lakshmi
7. Mr Ajay Maken
8. Mr K H Muniyappa
9. Mr Namo Narain Meena
10. Mr Jyotiraditya Scindia
11. Mr Jitin Prasad
12. Mr A Sai Prathap
13. Mr Gurudas Kamat
14. Mr M M Pallam Raju
15. Mr Mahadev Khandela
16. Mr Harish Rawat
17. Prof. K V Thomas
18. Mr Saugata Ray
19. Mr Dinesh Trivedi
20. Mr Sisir Adhikari
21. Mr Sultan Ahmed
22. Mr Mukul Roy
23. Mr Mohan Jatua
24. Mr S S Palanimanickam
25. Mr D Napoleon
26. Dr. S Jagathrakshakan
27. Mr S Gandhiselvan
28. Mrs Preneet Kaur
29. Mr Sachin Pilot
30. Mr Shashi Tharoor
31. Mr Bharatsinh Solanki
32. Mr Tusharbhai Chaudhary
33. Mr Arun Yadav
34. Mr Prateek Prakashbapu Patil
35. Mr R P N Singh
36. Mr Vincent Pala
37. Mr Pradeep Jain
38. Ms. Agatha Sangma

The expansion of the ministry was widely expected to be carried out on Tuesday but it was put off, apparently because, among other things, leaders of the Trinamool Congress (TC), a key ally of the Congress in the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), were busy with relief operations in cyclone-hit West Bengal.

Sources said that, apart from this, the UPA leadership also needed more time to reconcile the various claims for ministerial berths, both from within the Congress and from the allies.

Earlier this week, the Congress and the DMK sorted out differences between them on the number of ministerial berths and the portfolios to be allotted to the latter. As part of the understanding, it is learnt that Mr Maran will probably get the Textiles Ministry, with Chemicals and Fertilisers for Mr Azhagiri and Information Technology and Communications again for Mr Raja.

Mr Maran is a grand-nephew of Mr Karunanidhi and had held the IT and Communications portfolio for some time in the previous UPA government before Mr Karunanidhi pulled him out about two years ago because of serious differences within the family, which have since been sorted out.

As many as 64 ministers were expected to be sworn in with Dr Singh last Friday but, as it turned out, only 19 took oath because of the delay in hammering out a solution with the DMK.

As many as 17 of the 19 Cabinet Ministers who were sworn in on Friday are from the Congress. Mr Sharad Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Ms Mamata Banerjee (TC) were the only two representatives of the Congress' allies to take oath on that day.

The Congress ended up with 206 seats in the Lok Sabha in the just-concluded elections. The next largest party in the UPA is the TC with 19 seats, followed by the DMK with 18. In all, the UPA has 274 seats in the Lok Sabha. The number of MPs supporting it, including those who have pledged support from the outside, is 322.

Those extending support from outside include Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Samajwadi Party (SP) of Mulayam Singh Yadav and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of Lalu Prasad Yadav.

Only six of the 19 ministers sworn in on Friday have so far been allotted portfolios. They are Mr Pranab Mukherjee (Finance), Mr P Chidambaram (Home), Mr A K Antony (Defence), Mr S M Krishna (External Affairs), Mr Pawar (Agriculture, Food Processing, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution) and Ms Banerjee (Railways).

The delay in allocating portfolios to the others gives some indication of the difficulties that Dr Singh and his party have had in finalising the ministry.

Others who took oath on Friday included former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and former Karnataka Chief Minister M Veerappa Moily.

The cabinet also includes Mr Sushil Kumar Shinde, Mr S Jaipal Reddy, Mr Kamal Nath, Mr Vayalar Ravi, Ms Meira Kumar, Mr Murli Deora, Mr Kapil Sibal, Ms Ambika Soni, Mr B K Handique, Mr Anand Sharma---all ministers in the previous ministry-- and Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee chief C P Joshi.

Mr Sharma and Mr Handique were ministers of state in the previous ministry and have been elevated to cabinet rank in the new government.

NNN

59 ministers to be sworn in Thursday

As many as 59 new ministers will be sworn in by President Pratibha Patil Thursday morning as part of the expansion of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Council of Ministers.

As many as 59 new ministers will be sworn in by President Pratibha Patil tomorrow morning as part of the expansion of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Council of Ministers.

The new ministers will include 14 Cabinet Ministers, seven Ministers of State with Independent Charge and 38 Ministers of State, an official announcement said.

The swearing-in ceremony is scheduled to be held at 1130 hours tomorrow at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Dr Singh had been sworn in for his second consecutive five-year term, along with 19 Cabinet Ministers, last Friday.

The following are the names recommended by the Prime Minister to the President for inclusion in the Council of Ministers:
Virbhadra Singh
Virbhadra Singh
Dr. Farooq Abdullah
Dr. Farooq Abdullah
Dayanidhi Maran
Dayanidhi Maran
A Raja
A Raja
Kumari Selja
Ms. Selja
Subodh Kant Sahay
Subodh Kant Sahay
Dr. M S Gill
Dr. M S Gill
G K Vasan
G K Vasan
Pawan Kumar Bansal
Pawan Kumar Bansal
Kantilal Bhuria
Kantilal Bhuria
Praful Patel
Praful Patel
Prithviraj Chauhan
Prithviraj Chauhan

Cabinet Ministers:

1. Mr Virbhadra Singh
2. Mr Vilasrao Deshmukh
3. Dr. Farooq Abdullah
4. Mr Dayanidhi Maran
5. Mr A Raja
6. Mr Mallikarjun Kharge
7. Ms Selja
8. Mr Subodh Kant Sahay
9. Dr M S Gill
10. Mr G K Vasan
11. Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal
12. Mr Mukul Wasnik
13. Mr Kantilal Bhuria
14. Mr M K Azhagiri

Ministers of State with Independent Charge:

1. Mr Praful Patel
2. Mr Prithviraj Chauhan
3. Mr Sriprakash Jaiswal
4. Mr Salman Khursheed
5. Mr Dinsha Patel
6. Mr Jairam Ramesh
7. Mrs Krishna Tirath

Ministers of State:

1. Mr E Ahamed
2. Mr V Narayanasamy
3. Mr Srikant Jena
4. Mr Mullappally Ramachandran
5. Mrs D Purandeswari
6. Mrs Panabaka Lakshmi
7. Mr Ajay Maken
8. Mr K H Muniyappa
9. Mr Namo Narain Meena
10. Mr Jyotiraditya Scindia
11. Mr Jitin Prasad
12. Mr A Sai Prathap
13. Mr Gurudas Kamat
14. Mr M M Pallam Raju
15. Mr Mahadev Khandela
16. Mr Harish Rawat
17. Prof. K V Thomas
18. Mr Saugata Ray
19. Mr Dinesh Trivedi
20. Mr Sisir Adhikari
21. Mr Sultan Ahmed
22. Mr Mukul Roy
23. Mr Mohan Jatua
24. Mr S S Palanimanickam
25. Mr D Napoleon
26. Dr. S Jagathrakshakan
27. Mr S Gandhiselvan
28. Mrs Preneet Kaur
29. Mr Sachin Pilot
30. Mr Shashi Tharoor
31. Mr Bharatsinh Solanki
32. Mr Tusharbhai Chaudhary
33. Mr Arun Yadav
34. Mr Prateek Prakashbapu Patil
35. Mr R P N Singh
36. Mr Vincent Pala
37. Mr Pradeep Jain
38. Ms. Agatha Sangma

NNN

Manmohan Singh to expand ministry Thursday morning

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will expand his ministry on Thursday morning by bringing in representatives of the allies of the Congress in the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) as well as more nominees of his own party.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will expand his ministry on Thursday morning by bringing in representatives of the allies of the Congress in the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) as well as more nominees of his own party.

Official sources told NetIndian that the new ministers would be sworn in at 1130 hours on Thursday by President Pratibha Patil at a ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

There was no word on the names or the number of ministers to be sworn in on Thursday, but Congress sources had earlier indicated that the final strength of the ministry would be around 80, which is close to the maximum permissible size for the ministry under the law.

The expansion was widely expected to be carried out today, but it was apparently put off because, among other things, leaders of the Trinamool Congress (TC), a key ally, are busy with relief operations in cyclone-hit West Bengal.

In fact, TC leader Mamata Banerjee, who has already been sworn in and allotted the Railways ministry, assumed office in Kolkata itself today instead of coming to Rail Bhavan in New Delhi as originally planned.

Ms Banerjee and other Members of Parliament of her party, some of whom will be included in the Union Council of Ministers, are busy coordinating relief activities for the victims of the cyclone.

It was not possible to hold the swearing-in ceremony tomorrow because it is Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's death anniversary, the sources said.

Sources indicated that, apart from this, the UPA leadership also needed more time to reconcile the various claims for ministerial berths, both from within the Congress as well as from the allies.

Dr Singh, Congress President and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and senior Congress leaders Ahmed Patel continued their discussions today to finalise the composition of the ministry. The task became slightly easier after the problems with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) on the number of ministerial berths and portfolios to be allotted to it were resolved.

DMK supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi said in Chennai yesterday that the Prime Minister had approved the names of the nominees forwarded for inclusion in the ministry by the party.

No details were given, but it is understood that the DMK will get three Cabinet berths and four slots of Ministers of State.

The party's representatives in the Cabinet are likely to be Mr Dayanidhi Maran, who will probably get the Textiles Ministry, Mr M K Azhagiri, a son of Mr Karunanidhi, is likely to get Chemicals and Fertilisers, and Mr A Raja, who was in the previous government and might get Information Technology and Communications again.

Mr Maran is a grand-nephew of Mr Karunanidhi and had held the IT and Communications portfolio for some time in the earlier UPA government before Mr Karunanidhi pulled him out about two years ago because of serious differences within the family, which have since been sorted out.

Earlier, reports had indicated that Ms Kanimozhi, a daughter of Mr Karunanidhi and a member of the Rajya Sabha, would be made Minister of State for Women and Child Development with independent charge. But it now appears that the Congress had not agreed to the independent charge for her, and she might decide to stay out of the government.

Mr T R Baalu of the DMK, who handled Shipping and Surface Transport in the previous government, might not be included in the Cabinet this time.

As many as 64 ministers were expected to be sworn in with Dr Singh last Friday but, as it turned out, only 19 took oath because of the delay in hammering out a solution with the DMK.

As many as 17 of the 19 Cabinet Ministers who were sworn in on Friday are from the Congress. Mr Sharad Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Ms Banerjee were the only two representatives of the Congress' allies to take oath on that day.

The Congress ended up with 206 seats in the Lok Sabha in the just-concluded elections. The next largest party in the UPA is the TC with 19 seats, followed by the DMK with 18.

In all, the UPA has 274 seats in the Lok Sabha. The number of MPs supporting it, including those who have pledged support from the outside, is 322.

Those extending support from outside include Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Samajwadi Party (SP) of Mulayam Singh Yadav and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of Lalu Prasad Yadav.

The talks between the Congress and the DMK had broken down on Thursday night, with the regional ally unwilling to accept the formula proposed to it. In fact, the party announced that it would stay out of the Council of Ministers and support the UPA government from outside, which some saw as basically a bargaining ploy. Mr Karunanidhi and his colleagues flew back to Chennai on Friday morning, though some DMK members stayed back to attend the swearing-in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan that evening.

And though 19 ministers have been sworn in, only six of them have so far been allotted portfolios. They are Mr Pranab Mukherjee (Finance), Mr P Chidambaram (Home), Mr A K Antony (Defence), Mr S M Krishna (External Affairs), Mr Pawar (Agriculture, Food Processing, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution) and Ms Banerjee (Railways). The delay in allocating portfolios to the others gives some indication of the difficulties that Dr Singh and his party have had in finalising the ministry.

Others who took oath on Friday included former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and former Karnataka Chief Minister M Veerappa Moily.

The cabinet also includes Mr Sushil Kumar Shinde, Mr S Jaipal Reddy, Mr Kamal Nath, Mr Vayalar Ravi, Ms Meira Kumar, Mr Murli Deora, Mr Kapil Sibal, Ms Ambika Soni, Mr B K Handique, Mr Anand Sharma---all ministers in the previous ministry-- and Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee chief C P Joshi.

Mr Sharma and Mr Handique were ministers of state in the previous ministry and have been elevated to cabinet rank in the new cabinet.

The government had, in an official statement on Friday, said that an expansion of the ministry would take place soon when more ministers and more representatives of the allies would be included.

The expansion exercise could see the induction of Mr Praful Patel and Ms Agatha Sangma (former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno Sangma's daughter) of the NCP, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah (National Conference), and former Minister Jairam Ramesh of the Congress.

Former Union Ministers such as Salman Khurshid and Jairam Ramesh are also likely to be included.

Some young faces, such as Mr Jyotiraditya Scindia, Mr Jitin Prasada, Mr Sachin Pilot and Mr Naveen Jindal and Ms Priya Dutt, are also likely to be included. Of them, the first two were Ministers of State in the previous government.

The meetings between Dr Singh and Ms Gandhi and the other senior Congress leaders were, in particular, aimed at ensuring that all regions of the country as well as various castes and communities got adequate representation in the Council of Ministers, the sources added.

NNN

Ministry expansion may be delayed by a day

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's plans to expand his ministry on Tuesday may be put off by a day because leaders of the Trinamool Congress, some of whom are slated to become ministers, are busy with relief operations in cyclone-hit West Bengal.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's plans to expand his ministry on Tuesday may be put off by a day because leaders of the Trinamool Congress (TC), a key ally of the Congress in the ruling United Progressive Alliance, are busy with relief operations in West Bengal, which was hit by a severe cyclonic storm today.

TC leader Mamata Banerjee, who has already been sworn in and allotted the Railways ministry, will now assume office at the Eastern Railway headquarters in Kolkata tomorrow instead of coming to Rail Bhavan in New Delhi as originally planned, sources said.

Ms Banerjee and other Members of Parliament of her party, some of whom will be included in the Union Council of Ministers, are busy coordinating relief activities for the victims of the cyclone.

In view of this, the Prime Minister is understood to have decided to defer the swearing-in ceremony for the new ministers by a day, the sources said.

Dr Singh, Congress President and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and senior Congress leaders Ahmed Patel and Pranab Mukherjee were in day-long discussions today to finalise the composition of the ministry, now that the problems with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam on the number of ministerial berths and portfolios to be allotted to it have been resolved.

DMK supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi said in Chennai that the Prime Minister had approved the names of the nominees forwarded for inclusion in the ministry by the party.

No details were given, but it is understood that the DMK will get three Cabinet berths and four slots of Ministers of State.

The party's representatives in the Cabinet are likely to be Mr Dayanidhi Maran, who will probably get the Textiles Ministry, Mr M K Azhagiri, a son of Mr Karunanidhi, is likely to get Chemicals and Fertilisers, and Mr A Raja, who was in the previous government and might get Information Technology and Communications again.

Mr Maran is a grand-nephew of Mr Karunanidhi and had held the IT and Communications portfolio for some time in the earlier UPA government before Mr Karunanidhi pulled him out about two years ago because of serious differences within the family, which have since been sorted out.

Earlier, reports had indicated that Ms Kanimozhi, a daughter of Mr Karunanidhi and a member of the Rajya Sabha, would be made Minister of State for Women and Child Development with independent charge. But it now appears that the Congress had not agreed to the independent charge for her, and she might decide to stay out of the government.

Mr T R Baalu of the DMK, who handled Shipping and Surface Transport in the previous government, might not be included in the Cabinet this time.

As many as 64 ministers were expected to be sworn in with Dr Singh last Friday but, as it turned out, only 19 took oath because of the delay in hammering out a solution with the DMK.

As many as 17 of the 19 Cabinet Ministers who were sworn in on Friday are from the Congress. Mr Sharad Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Ms Banerjee were the only two representatives of the Congress' allies to take oath on that day.

The Congress ended up with 206 seats in the Lok Sabha in the just-concluded elections. The next largest party in the UPA is the TC with 19 seats, followed by the DMK with 18. In all, the UPA has 274 seats in the Lok Sabha. The number of MPs supporting it, including those who have pledged support from the outside, is 322.

Those extending support from outside include Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Samajwadi Party (SP) of Mulayam Singh Yadav and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of Lalu Prasad Yadav.

The talks between the Congress and the DMK had broken down on Thursday night, with the regional ally unwilling to accept the formula proposed to it. In fact, the party announced that it would stay out of the Council of Ministers and support the UPA government from outside, which some saw as basically a bargaining ploy. Mr Karunanidhi and his colleagues flew back to Chennai on Friday morning, though some DMK members stayed back to attend the swearing-in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan that evening.

And though 19 ministers have been sworn in, only six of them have so far been allotted portfolios. They are Mr Pranab Mukherjee (Finance), Mr P Chidambaram (Home), Mr A K Antony (Defence), Mr S M Krishna (External Affairs), Mr Pawar (Agriculture, Food Processing, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution) and Ms Banerjee (Railways). The delay in allocating portfolios to the others gives some indication of the difficulties that Dr Singh and his party have had in finalising the ministry.

Others who took oath on Friday included former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and former Karnataka Chief Minister M Veerappa Moily.

The new cabinet also includes Mr Sushil Kumar Shinde, Mr S Jaipal Reddy, Mr Kamal Nath, Mr Vayalar Ravi, Ms Meira Kumar, Mr Murli Deora, Mr Kapil Sibal, Ms Ambika Soni, Mr B K Handique, Mr Anand Sharma---all ministers in the previous ministry-- and Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee chief C P Joshi.

Mr Sharma and Mr Handique were ministers of state in the previous ministry and have been elevated to cabinet rank in the new cabinet.

The government had, in an official statement on Friday, said that an expansion of the ministry would take place soon when more ministers and more representatives of the allies would be included.

While there is no official word on the size of the Council of Ministers, it is likely that the number would be around 80, the same as the number in the previous government.

The expansion exercise could see the induction of Mr Praful Patel and Ms Agatha Sangma (former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno Sangma's daughter) of the NCP, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah (National Conference), and former Minister Jairam Ramesh of the Congress.

Some young faces, such as Mr Jyotiraditya Scindia, Mr Jitin Prasada, Mr Sachin Pilot and Mr Naveen Jindal and Ms Priya Dutt, are also likely to be included. Of them, the first two were Ministers of State in the previous government.

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DMK comes around, ministry expansion likely Tuesday

PM Manmohan Singh is likely to expand his Council of Ministers on Tuesday, with indications that the differences between the Congress and the DMK, its ally in the UPA, have been finally ironed out.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to carry out the expected expansion of his Council of Ministers on Tuesday, with reports from Chennai indicating that the  differences between the Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), its ally in the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), have been finally ironed out.

While there was no official word on the agreement between the two sides, sources said the DMK had finally decided to join the government and that it would get three Cabinet slots and four Ministers of State.

The party's representatives in the Cabinet are likely to be Mr Dayanidhi Maran, who will probably get the Textiles Ministry. Mr M K Azhagiri, a son of DMK supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, is likely to get Chemicals and Fertilisers, while Mr A Raja, who was in the previous government, too, might get Information Technology and Communications.

Mr Maran is a grand-nephew of Mr Karunanidhi and had held the IT and Communications portfolio for some time in the earlier UPA government before Mr Karunanidhi pulled him out because of serious differences within the family, which have since been sorted out.

The reports also indicated that Ms Kanimozhi, a daughter of Mr Karunanidhi and a member of the Rajya Sabha, would be made Minister of State for Women and Child Development with independent charge.

Mr T R Baalu of the DMK, who handled Shipping and Surface Transport in the previous government, might not be included in the Cabinet this time, the reports suggested. There was speculation that he might be considered for the Deputy Speaker's position.

The final formula was worked out at day-long meetings that Mr Karunanidhi had with his party colleagues in Chennai.

A formal announcement of the rapprochement is likely to be made tomorrow, the sources said.

Dr Singh, UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi and senior Congress leaders like Mr Ahmed Patel were said to be working out details of the final list of names and portfolios tonight.

As many as 64 ministers were expected to be sworn in with Dr Singh last Friday but, as it turned out, only 19 took oath because of the delay in hammering out a solution with the DMK.

As many as 17 of the 19 Cabinet Ministers who were sworn in on Friday are from the Congress. Mr Sharad Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Ms Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress (TC) were the only two representatives of the Congress' allies to take oath on that day.

The Congress ended up with 206 seats in the Lok Sabha in the just-concluded elections. The next largest party in the UPA is the TC with 19 seats, followed by the DMK with 18. In all, the UPA has 274 seats in the Lok Sabha. The number of MPs supporting it, including those who have pledged support from the outside, is 322. Those extending support from outside include Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Samajwadi Party (SP) of Mulayam Singh Yadav and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of Lalu Prasad Yadav.

The talks between the Congress and the DMK had broken down on Thursday night, with the regional ally unwilling to accept the formula proposed to it. In fact, the party announced that it would stay out of the Council of Ministers and support the UPA government from outside, which some saw as basically a bargaining ploy. Mr Karunanidhi and his colleagues flew back to Chennai on Friday morning, though some DMK members stayed back to attend the swearing-in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan that evening.

And though 19 ministers have been sworn in, only six of them have so far been allotted portfolios. They are Mr Pranab Mukherjee (Finance), Mr P Chidambaram (Home), Mr A K Antony (Defence), Mr S M Krishna (External Affairs), Mr Pawar (Agriculture, Food Processing, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution) and Ms Banerjee (Railways).

Others who took oath on Friday included former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and former Karnataka Chief Minister M Veerappa Moily.

The new cabinet also includes Mr Sushil Kumar Shinde, Mr S Jaipal Reddy, Mr Kamal Nath, Mr Vayalar Ravi, Ms Meira Kumar, Mr Murli Deora, Mr Kapil Sibal, Ms Ambika Soni, Mr B K Handique, Mr Anand Sharma---all ministers in the previous ministry-- and Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee chief C P Joshi.

Mr Sharma and Mr Handique were ministers of state in the previous ministry and have been elevated to cabinet rank in the new cabinet.

The government had, in an official statement on Friday, said that an expansion of the ministry would take place soon when more ministers and more representatives of the allies would be included.

While there is no official word on the size of the Council of Ministers, it is likely that the number would be around 80, the same as the number in the previous government.

One of the fears that the Congress has is that if it gives in to the demands of the DMK on the number of ministerial berths, other allies could also raise similar demands. The TC and NCP are likely to ask for and get more berths in the Council of Ministers because of this.

Tuesday's exercise could see the induction of Mr Praful Patel and Ms Agatha Sangma (former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno Sangma's daughter) of the NCP, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah (National Conference), and former Minister Jairam Ramesh of the Congress.

Some young faces, such as Mr Jyotiraditya Scindia, Mr Jitin Prasada, Mr Sachin Pilot and Mr Naveen Jindal and Ms Priya Dutt, are also likely to be included. Of them, the first two were Ministers of State in the previous government.

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Pranab gets Finance, Krishna External Affairs

Veteran Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee will be the new Finance Minister of India and former Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna its new External Affairs Minister.

Veteran Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee will be the new Finance Minister of India and former Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna its new External Affairs Minister.

Mr P Chidambaram will continue to look after Home Affairs, while Mr A K Antony will retain Defence and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar will retain Agriculture, Food and Civil Supplies, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution.

The three ministers had held the same portfolios in the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

Trinamool Congress (TC) supremo Mamata Banerjee makes a return to the Union Government after several years as the new Minister for Railways, a portfolio that she has handled before and which she reportedly was keen on again this time.

In all, 19 Cabinet Ministers had taken oaths of office and secrecy along with Dr Singh yesterday, but the Prime Minister is yet to decide on the portfolios of the others.
Pranab Mukherjee, Finance Minister
Pranab Mukherjee
Finance Minister
A K Antony, Defence Minister
A K Antony
Defence Minister
P Chidambaram, Home Minister
P Chidambaram
Home Minister
Sharad Pawar, Minister for Agriculture, Food and Civil Supplies, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution
Sharad Pawar
Agriculture, Food & Civil Supplies,
Consumer Affairs & Pub. Distbn.

S M Krishna, External Affairs
S M Krishna
External Affairs
 

Mamata Banerjee, Railways Minister
Mamata Banerjee
Railways Minister
 

Cabinet ministers with important portfolios.

Mr Chidambaram was the Finance Minister for most of the previous UPA government's tenure, but he was shifted to Home after the November 26, 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

The Prime Minister himself was handling Finance for some time, but then he had to go in for a coronary bypass surgery, during which period he asked Mr Mukherjee to look after the assignment.

Mr Mukherjee has been Finance Minister once earlier in the early 1980s in the Indira Gandhi government. An economist by training, Mr Mukherjee has also served as Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission in the late 1980s.

Mr Krishna, 77, a suave politician who as Chief Minister had helped usher in the Information Technology revolution in Karnataka, was governor of Maharashtra from 2004 to 2008 before he quit to return to active politics in his state.  He has served as Minister of State at the Centre in the Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi governments.

A graduate in Arts, Mr Krishna also took a degree in Law before he went to study at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and the George Washington University in Washington, DC, where he was a Fulbright scholar. He also taught International Law there.

A Rashtrapati Bhavan communique said President Pratibha Patil had made the allocation of portfolios to the six ministers on the advice of the Prime Minister. All the ministries that have remained unallocated would be looked after by the Prime Minister, it added.

Dr Singh began his second five-year term as Prime Minister Friday evening, and the UPA had originally planned to induct about 64 ministers in one go but this could not be done after problems cropped between the Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) over the number of ministerial berths and portfolios being given to its representatives.

The talks broke down on Thursday night and the DMK announced that it would stay out of the Council of Ministers and extend support from outside to the UPA government. DMK supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, who was camping here for three days for negotiations with the Congress on this issue, left yesterday morning for Chennai.

In view of its pre-occupation with the problems that arose with the DMK, the Congress could not complete the discussions on the ministry formation with other allies in the UPA. In the end, it was decided that only 19 ministers, mainly from the Congress, would take oath on Friday evening. The others would be included in an expansion of the ministry, likely to be carried out Tuesday.

Meanwhile, there were indications from Chennai that the DMK was actively considering the formula proposed to it by the Congress in this matter.

Mr Pawar and Ms Banerjee were the only two representatives of the other parties in the UPA to be sworn in Friday.

Others who took oath yesterday included former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and former Karnataka Chief Minister M Veerappa Moily.

The new cabinet also includes Mr Sushil Kumar Shinde, Mr S Jaipal Reddy, Mr Kamal Nath, Mr Vayalar Ravi, Ms Meira Kumar, Mr Murli Deora, Mr Kapil Sibal, Ms Ambika Soni, Mr B K Handique, Mr Anand Sharma---all ministers in the previous ministry-- and Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee chief C P Joshi.

Mr Sharma and Mr Handique were ministers of state in the previous ministry and have been elevated to cabinet rank in the new cabinet.

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Team Manmohan begins second term, portfolios within two days

PM Manmohan Singh was sworn in for a second term in office by President Pratibha Patil on Friday along with 19 Cabinet Ministers against the background of differences between the Congress and the DMK.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was sworn in for a second term in office by President Pratibha Patil this evening along with 19 Cabinet Ministers, including Congress leaders Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidamabaram and A K Antony against the background of differences between the Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) over ministerial berths that prevented the induction of a larger team.
President Pratibha Devisingh Patil administering the oath of office of the Prime Minister to Dr. Manmohan Singh at the Swearing-in Ceremony, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, today.

President Pratibha Devisingh Patil administering the oath of office of the Prime Minister to Dr. Manmohan Singh at the Swearing-in Ceremony, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, today.

Others inducted into the cabinet today included Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar and Trinamool Congress (TC) chief Mamata Banerjee.

They were the only two representatives of the allies of the Congress in the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) sworn in today.

Former Karnataka Chief Ministers S M Krishna and M Veerappa Moily, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ghulam Nabi Azad and other Congress leaders such as Sushil Kumar Shinde were also sworn in today.
President Pratibha Devisingh Patil administering the oath of office of a Cabinet Minister to Pranab Mukherjee at the Swearing-in Ceremony, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, today.President Pratibha Devisingh Patil administering the oath of office of a Cabinet Minister to A K Antony at the Swearing-in Ceremony, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, today.President Pratibha Devisingh Patil administering the oath of office of a Cabinet Minister to P Chidambaram at the Swearing-in Ceremony, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, today.
President Pratibha Devisingh Patil administering the oath of office of a Cabinet Minister to Sharad Pawar at the Swearing-in Ceremony, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, today.President Pratibha Devisingh Patil administering the oath of office of a Cabinet Minister to Mamata Bannerjee at the Swearing-in Ceremony, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, today.President Pratibha Devisingh Patil administering the oath of office of a Cabinet Minister to S M Krishna at the Swearing-in Ceremony, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, today.
Pranab Mukherjee, A K Antony, P Chidambaram, Sharad Pawar, Mamata Banerjee and S M Krishna being sworn during the swearing-in ceremony today.
The others inducted today were Mr S Jaipal Reddy, Mr Kamal Nath, Mr Vayalar Ravi, Ms Meira Kumar, Mr Murli Deora, Mr Kapil Sibal, Ms Ambika Soni, Mr B K Handique, Mr Anand Sharma---all ministers in the outgoing ministry-- and Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee chief C P Joshi.

Mr Sharma and Mr Handique were ministers of state in the outgoing government and have been elevated to cabinet rank in the new cabinet.

Dr Singh has created history of sorts by becoming the first Prime Minister after Jawaharlal Nehru to win a second term in office after completing a five-year tenure. Incidentally, he had been sworn in as Prime Minister for the first time on this very day five years ago.

The new ministers were administered the oaths of office and secrecy by President Patil at a glittering ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhavan that began at 1830 hours.

"This will be followed in the next few days by an expansion of the Council of Ministers, including other Cabinet Ministers, Ministers of State with independent charge as well other Ministers of State. This expansion will give due representation to allied parties," an official statement said.

Though the original plans were to induct about 64 ministers today, the UPA leadership finally decided to induct only 19 cabinet ministers today, to begin with, and expand the ministry a few days later, by when the problems that had cropped up with regard to ministerial berths with the DMK would likely be resolved.

Pending that, the UPA leadership also decided to limit today's exercise to senior Congress ministers as well as Mr Pawar and Ms Banerjee and induct more ministers, including representatives of other constituents of the alliance, in the next round.

While no date has been set for the expansion, it is learnt that it could be done as early as on Tuesday.

Amongst those present at the swearing-in ceremony were Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Leader of the Opposition Lal Krishna Advani and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

Others present included former Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Vadra with her husband Robert Vadra.

Also seen were former Railways Minister Lalu Prasad and former Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, whose Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), respectively, though allies of the UPA, had decided to fight the Lok Sabha elections alone. The RJD ended up with just four seats and the LJP with none. Both of them now find themselves out in the cold, though there is a remote chance that Mr Prasad might ultimately find a place in the Council of Ministers.

Portfolios of the new ministers are expected to be announced only in a day or two, given the problems the alliance is facing on the allocation of portfolios. But it is widely expected that Mr Mukherjee will be given Finance while Mr Chidambaram and Mr Antony will retain Home and Defence, respectively.
Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister
Dr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister
Pranab Mukherjee, Finance Minister
Pranab Mukherjee
Finance Minister
P Chidambaram, Home Minister
P Chidambaram
Home Minister
A K Antony, Defence Minister
A K Antony
Defence Minister
Sharad Pawar
Sharad Pawar
 
Mamata Banerjee, Railways Minister
Mamata Banerjee
Railways Minister
S M Krishna
S M Krishna
 
Ghulam Nabi Azad
Ghulam Nabi Azad
 
Sushil Kumar Shinde
Sushil Kumar Shinde
 
Veerapa Moily
Veerapa Moily
 
Jaipal Reddy
Jaipal Reddy
Kamal Nath
Kamal Nath
Vayalar Ravi
Vayalar Ravi
Meira Kumar
Meira Kumar
Murli Deora
Murli Deora
Kapil Sibal
Kapil Sibal
Ambika Soni
Ambika Soni
B K Handique
B K Handique
Anand Sharma
Anand Sharma
C P Joshi
C P Joshi
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the 19 Cabinet Ministers sworn in today.
It is likely that External Affairs will go to Mr Krishna, though the name of Mr Kamal Nath has also been mentioned in this connection.

Mr Sibal is tipped to get Human Resource Development after having handled Science and Technology in the previous government. Mr Sharma is likely to get Information and Broadcasting, which he was handling in the previous ministry as an additional charge in the absence of Mr Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, who is seriously ill.

Talking to mediapersons after the swearing-in ceremony, Dr Singh reached out to the DMK, hoping it would "see reason" and consider the "reasonable" offer made to it by the Congress on the number of ministerial berths and portfolions. "We hope they will see reason," he said.

"Whatever UPA offered is reasonable. They are our respected colleagues. We still hope that in the next few days they will reconsider their decision," he said. He hoped the DMK would "come back" without much delay.

There were also reports that Dr Singh was opposed to the inclusion of the DMK's A Raja and T R Baalu in the cabinet because there were serious allegations against them. But the Prime Minister said today that he had no such reservations. "They are our honoured colleagues. There is no question about having any reservation," he said.

Talks between the Congress and the DMK had broken down last night over the number of ministerial berths to be given to it and the regional party later announced it would extend support from outside to the UPA government and stay out of the Council of Ministers.

DMK supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, who was camping in the capital for the last three days for negotiations on this issue with the Congress, flew back to Chennai this morning along with some of his party colleagues.

But the Congress insisted the dialogue with the DMK had not stopped and efforts would continue to resolve the issue amicably.

By late evening, there were reports that the DMK had agreed to scale down its expectations. When asked about this, former Union Information Technology minister Dayanidhi Maran said that the party position had been made clear by Mr Baalu last night and Mr Karunanidhi this morning. "Till he says anything, please do not speculate," he said.

It is because of this issue that the ministry formation exercise could not be completed. The Congress is yet to talk in this regard with some of the other constituents of the UPA.

Interestingly, some veterans in the outgoing Cabinet like Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh, Minorities Affairs Minister A R Antulay and Law and Justice Minister H R Bhardwaj do not find a place in the list of ministers sworn in today. Also missing are the names of Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz, Mines Minister Sis Ram Ola, Heavy Industries Minister Sontosh Mohan Dev and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Minister Mahavir Prasad.

Two other members of the previous Cabinet, belonging to the Congress, Mani Shankar Aiyar and Shankar Singh Vaghela lost the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections from Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, respectively.

The hours before the swearing-in ceremony were marked by hectic political consultations to resolve the differences between the Congress and the DMK.

Ms Gandhi, Dr Singh and senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel held discussions about the names of those who will be included in the Council of Ministers and the portfolios to be allocated to them in the background of the breakdown in talks with the DMK.

Last night, the DMK announced that it would not join the Council of Ministers and instead extend support from the outside to the UPA government. It said that the formula proposed by the Congress was not acceptable to it. Later, the Congress said that the DMK wanted much more than what was being offered to it. The party also said that the DMK's announcement did not mean the dialogue between the two had ended.

It must be mentioned here that the DMK is dependent on support from the Congress in the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly and there were reports that the Congress might now ask for places in the state government for its MLAs.

A meeting of the DMK executive was due to be held in Chennai today to discuss the issue, sources said.

There were also some hiccups between the Congress and the National Conference (NC), which is also a part of the UPA.

NC leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah flew off to South Africa to witness the semi-finals and final of the Indian Premier League cricket tournament being played there, apparently miffed that he had not been told anything about whether he would be included in the cabinet or not.

Before leaving Delhi, Dr Abdullah told reporters that the Prime Minister had called him up and told him that a decision on his place in the cabinet would be taken after the Congress sorted out the problems that had cropped up with the DMK.

His son Omar Abdullah, Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, said the NC was not angry and maintained that his party had not demanded anything in return for its support to the UPA government. He said Dr Abdullah was satisfied after the Prime Minister had spoken to him.

He also said that he was running a coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir and could very well understand the kind of problems that Dr Singh must be facing when finalising his cabinet. "This is only the beginning and things will settle down soon," he said.

After the Congress with 206 seats, the Trinamool Congress is the largest constituent of the UPA with 19 seats in the Lok Sabha, followed by the DMK with 18.

Dr Singh was appointed to head the new government by the President on Wednesday after he was chosen the leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party earlier that day. Dr Singh and Ms Gandhi had gone together to meet the President that evening to stake claim on behalf of the UPA to form the next government.

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Manmohan Singh to be sworn in with 19 ministers

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be sworn in for a second term in office by President Pratibha Patil Friday evening along with 19 Cabinet Ministers, including Congress leaders Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidamabaram and A K Antony.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be sworn in for a second term in office by President Pratibha Patil this evening along with 19 Cabinet Ministers, including Congress leaders Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidamabaram and A K Antony, an official announcement said today.

Others being inducted into the cabinet today include Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar and Trinamool Congress (TC) chief Mamata Banerjee.
Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister
Dr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister
Pranab Mukherjee, Finance Minister
Pranab Mukherjee
Finance Minister
P Chidambaram, Home Minister
P Chidambaram
Home Minister
A K Antony, Defence Minister
A K Antony
Defence Minister
Sharad Pawar
Sharad Pawar
 
Mamata Banerjee, Railways Minister
Mamata Banerjee
Railways Minister
S M Krishna
S M Krishna
 
Ghulam Nabi Azad
Ghulam Nabi Azad
 
Sushil Kumar Shinde
Sushil Kumar Shinde
 
Veerapa Moily
Veerapa Moily
 
Jaipal Reddy
Jaipal Reddy
Kamal Nath
Kamal Nath
Vayalar Ravi
Vayalar Ravi
Meira Kumar
Meira Kumar
Murli Deora
Murli Deora
Kapil Sibal
Kapil Sibal
Ambika Soni
Ambika Soni
B K Handique
B K Handique
Anand Sharma
Anand Sharma
C P Joshi
C P Joshi
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the 19 Cabinet Ministers to be sworn in today.

They are the only two representatives of the allies of the Congress in the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) being sworn in today.

Talks between the Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) had broken down last night over the number of ministerial berths to be given to it and the regional party later announced it would extend support from outside to the UPA government and stay out of the Council of Ministers.

DMK supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, who was camping in the capital for the last three days for negotiations on this issue with the Congress, flew back to Chennai this morning along with some of his party colleagues.

But the Congress insisted the dialogue with the DMK had not stopped and efforts would continue to resolve the issue amicably.

It is because of this issue that the ministry formation exercise could not be completed. The Congress is yet to talk on this issue to some of the other constituents of the UPA.

Though the original plans were to induct about 64 ministers today, it has now been decided to swear in only 19 ministers to begin with and expand the ministry a few days later.

Former Karnataka Chief Ministes  S M Krishna and M Veerappa Moily, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ghulam Nabi Azad and other Congress leaders such as Sushil Kumar Shinde will also be sworn in today.

The others to be inducted today are Mr S Jaipal Reddy, Mr Kamal Nath, Mr Vayalar Ravi, Ms Meira Kumar, Mr Murli Deora, Mr Kapil Sibal, Ms Ambika Soni, Mr B K Handique, Mr Anand Sharma---all ministers in the outgoing ministry-- and Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee chief C P Joshi.

Mr Sharma and Mr Handique are ministers of state in the outgoing government and find themselves elevated to cabinet rank now.

"This will be followed in the next few days by an expansion of the Council of Ministers, including other Cabinet Ministers, Ministers of State with independent charge as well other Ministers of State. This expansion will give due representation to allied parties," the statement added.

Interestingly, some veterans in the outgoing Cabinet like Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh, Minorities Affairs Minister A R Antulay and Law and Justice Minister H R Bhardwaj do not find a place in the list of ministers to be sworn in today. Also missing are the names of Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz, Mines Minister Sis Ram Ola, Heavy Industries Minister Sontosh Mohan Dev and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Minister Mahavir Prasad.

Two other ministers belonging to the Congress, Mani Shankar Aiyar and Shankar Singh Vaghela lost the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections from Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, respectively.

The hours before the swearing-in, scheduled for 1830 hours IST today, were marked by hectic political consultations to resolve the differences between the Congress and the DMK over the number of ministerial berths and the porfolios to be given to the latter.

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Dr Singh and senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel held discussions about the names of those who will be included in the Council of Ministers and the portfolios to be allocated to them in the background of the breakdown in talks with the DMK.

Last night, the DMK announced that it would not join the Council of Ministers and instead extend support from the outside to the UPA government. It said that the formula proposed by the Congress was not acceptable to it. Later, the Congress said that the DMK wanted much more than what was being offered to it. The party also said that the DMK's announcement did not mean the dialogue between the two had ended.

It must be mentioned here that the DMK is dependent on support from the Congress in the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly and there were reports that the Congress might now ask for places in the state government for its MLAs.

A meeting of the DMK executive has been called in Chennai later today to discuss the issue, sources said.

There were also some hiccups between the Congress and the National Conference (NC), which is also a part of the UPA.

NC leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah flew off to South Africa to witness the semi-finals and final of the India Premier League cricket tournament being played there, apparently miffed that he had not been told anything about whether he would be included in the cabinet or not.

Before leaving Delhi, Dr Abdullah told reporters that the Prime Minister had called him up and told him that a decision on his place in the cabinet would be taken after the Congress sorted out the problems that had cropped up with the DMK.

His son Omar Abdullah, Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, said the NC was not angry and maintained that his party had not demanded anything in return for its support to the UPA government. He said Dr Abdullah was satisfied after the Prime Minister had spoken to him.

He also said that he was running a coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir and could very well understand the kind of problems that Dr Singh must be facing when finalising his cabinet. "This is only the beginning and things will settle down soon," he said.

After the Congress with 206 seats, the Trinamool Congress is the largest constituent of the UPA with 19 seats in the Lok Sabha, followed by the DMK with 18.

Dr Singh was appointed to head the new government by President Pratibha Patil on Wednesday after he was chosen the leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party earlier that day. Dr Singh and Ms Gandhi had gone together to meet the President that evening to stake claim on behalf of the UPA to form the next government.

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Hectic consultations ahead of today's swearing-in

Hectic political consultations were underway Friday to resolve differences between the Congress and its allies in the ruling UPA over ministerial berths with only hours to go for the swearing-in of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for a second term in office.

Hectic political consultations were underway here today to resolve differences between the Congress and its allies in the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) over ministerial berths with only hours to go for the swearing-in of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for a second term in office.

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Dr Singh and senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel were holding discussions about the names of those who will be included in the Council of Ministers and the portfolios to be allocated to them in the background of the breakdown in talks between the Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) over the number of ministerial berths to be allocated to them.

DMK supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, who was camping here for the last three days, flew back to Chennai this morning along with some of his colleagues.

Last night, the DMK announced that it would not join the Council of Ministers and instead extend support from the outside to the UPA government. It said that the formula proposed by the Congress was not acceptable to it. Later, the Congress said that the DMK wanted much more than what was being offered to it. The party also said that the DMK's announcement did not mean the dialogue between the two had ended.

It must be mentioned here that the DMK is dependent on support from the Congress in the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly and there were reports that the Congress might now ask for places in the state government for its MLAs.

A meeting of the DMK executive has been called in Chennai later today to discuss the issue, sources said.

Despite the differences, the DMK MPs present in Delhi would attend the swearing-in ceremony, the sources added.

There were also some hiccups between the Congress and the National Conference (NC), which is also a part of the UPA.

NC leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah flew off to South Africa to witness the semi-finals and final of the India Premier League cricket tournament being played there, apparently miffed that he had not been told anything about whether he would be included in the cabinet or not.

Before leaving Delhi, Dr Abdullah told reporters that the Prime Minister had called him up and told him that a decision on his place in the cabinet would be taken after the Congress sorted out the problems that had cropped up with the DMK.

His son Omar Abdullah, Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, said the NC was not angry and maintained that his party had not demanded anything in return for its support to the UPA government. He said Dr Abdullah was satisfied after the Prime Minister had spoken to him.

He also said that he was running a coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir and could very well understand the kind of problems that Dr Singh must be facing when finalising his cabinet. "This is only the beginning and things will settle down soon," he said.

Dr Singh is scheduled to be sworn in by President Pratibha Patil at a ceremony in Rashtrapati Bhavan at 1830 hours today.

It now appears that a small team of ministers would be sworn in along with Dr Singh and that he would go in for an expansion of the Council of Ministers within a few days after sorting out the differences with the partners.

There was no official word from any quarter on the talks between the Congress and the other alliance partners, especially the Trinamool Congress (TC) of Mamata Banerjee and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) of Sharad Pawar.

After the Congress with 206 seats, the TC is the largest constituent of the UPA with 19 seats in the Lok Sabha, followed by the DMK with 18.

There were no indications of any major problem with these partners, and it is likely that Ms Banerjee and Mr Pawar would be among those to be sworn in today.

While the DMK reportedly wanted Information Technology and Communications, Surface Transport, Railways, Health and some other portfolios, the TC was said to be keen on Railways for itself, given the fact that the post was once held by Ms Banerjee.

The party is also said to be interested in Coal and Mines and Steel, areas which are of viital importance to her state, West Bengal. Publicly, Ms Banerjee has been saying that she had no demands.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that the Congress has decided to maintain status quo with several of the allies, that is offer them the same number of berths and the same portfolios as they had in the outgoing government.

This would mean that Mr Pawar would retain Agriculture and Food Processing, his party colleague Praful Patel would get to keep Civil Aviation.

Speculation continued on the composition of the new cabinet. It is widely believed that Mr Pranab Mukherjee would get Finance and Dr Singh would find a new face for the External Affairs ministry. The names doing the rounds include former Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath and former Union Minister Karan Singh.

Home Minister P Chidambaram and Defence Minister A K Antony are expected to retain their posts.

There is a chance that Mr Kapil Sibal, who was handling Science and Technology in the outgoing government, would get Human Resource Development.

Mr S Jaipal Reddy, Ms Ambika Soni, Mr Anand Sharma and Mr B K Handique, who are part of the outgoing governemnt, are more or less certain to be included in the new Council of Ministers.

Some of the others who are expected to find places in the Council of Ministers are former Union Minister Salman Khurshid, former UN Under Secretary General Shashi Tharoor, Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Sushil Kumar Shinde and Meira Kumar, and young MPs such as Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot, Jitin Prasada and Naveen Jindal.

Of course, the last word has not yet been said about Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi. The Prime Minister himself has gone on record to say that he had wanted Mr Gandhi in the previous government and would very much like him to be a part of the new ministry. But Mr Gandhi has been saying that he would like to concentrate on party work and help empower the youth of the country.

Dr Singh was appointed to head the new government by President Pratibha Patil on Wednesday after he was chosen the leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party earlier that day. Dr Singh and Ms Gandhi had gone together to meet the President yesterday evening to stake claim on behalf of the UPA to form the next government.

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Alliance blues for UPA ahead of swearing-in

With less than 24 hours to go for PM Manmohan Singh to be sworn in for a second five-year term, his Congress party was grappling Thursday night with the knotty problem of allocation of ministerial berths to its partners in the UPA.

With less than 24 hours to go for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to be sworn in for a second five-year term, his Congress party was grappling tonight with the knotty problem of allocation of ministerial berths to its partners in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

Late this evening, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) with 18 MPs, announced that it had decided to stay out of the ministry and extend support from the outside to the government.

DMK leader T R Baalu told reporters that the formula (on the number of ministerial berths) was not acceptable to his party. He said DMK supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, who has been camping here for the past couple of days, had also talked about the issue to Congress President and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi as well as Dr Singh.

He said he had been advised by Mr Karunanidhi to tell the media that the DMK would support the Manmohan Singh government from outside.

Congress spokesman Janardhan Dwivedi told reporters after the announcement that the proposal made by the Congress to the DMK had not been accepted by the latter. "They wanted something more." he said.

According to him, the Congress had offered them "status quo", that is the same number of ministerial berths and the same portfolios as in the outgoing UPA government, but the DMK did not find that acceptable.

But Mr Dwivedi made it clear that the DMK announcement of support from outside did not mean that the dialogue between the two sides had stopped. He said the talks would continue and, later, there were reports that emissaries were trying to help resolve the issue. There were also indications that Ms Gandhi and Dr Singh had talked to Mr Karunanidhi on the telephone.

As of now, the DMK leaders were scheduled to fly back to Chennai tomorrow morning but political observers felt this was part of the hard bargaining tactics the party had adopted to get what it wanted.

It might be relevant to point out here that the DMK is dependent on the support of the Congress in the Tamil Nadu assembly.

There was no official word from any quarter on the talks between the Congress and the other alliance partners, especially the Trinamool Congress (TC) of Mamata Banerjee and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) of Sharad Pawar.

After the Congress with 206 seats, the TC is the largest constituent of the UPA with 19 seats in the Lok Sabha, followed by the DMK with 18.

There were reports suggesting that Ms Banerjee was also driving a hard bargain and insisting that her party should get the same number of berths as the DMK plus one.

While the DMK reportedly wanted Information Technology and Communications, Surface Transport, Railways, Health and some other portfolios, the TC was said to be keen on Railways for itself, given the fact that the post was once held by Ms Banerjee. The party is also said to be interested in Coal and Mines and Steel, areas which are of viital importance to her state, West Bengal. Publicly, Ms Banerjee has been saying that she had no demands.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that the Congress has decided to maintain status quo with several of the allies, that is offer them the same number of berths and the same portfolios as they had in the outgoing government.

This would mean that Mr Pawar would retain Agriculture and Food Processing, his party colleague Praful Patel would get to keep Civil Aviation.

Speculation continued on the composition of the new cabinet. It is widely believed that Mr Pranab Mukherjee would get Finance and Dr Singh would find a new face for the External Affairs ministry. The names doing the rounds include former Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath and former Union Minister Karan Singh.

Home Minister P Chidambaram and Defence Minister A K Antony are expected to retain their posts.

There is a chance that Mr Kapil Sibal, who was handling Science and Technology in the outgoing government, would get Human Resource Development.

Some of the others who are expected to find places in the Council of Ministers are former Union Minister Salman Khurshid, former UN Under Secretary General Shashi Tharoor, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Sushil Kumar Shinde and Meira Kumar, and young MPs such as Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot, Jitin Prasada and Naveen Jindal.

Of course, the last word has not yet been said about Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi. The Prime Minister himself has gone on record to say that he had wanted Mr Gandhi in the previous government and would very much like him to be a part of the new ministry. But Mr Gandhi has been saying that he would like to concentrate on party work and help empower the youth of the country.

As of now, the Prime Minister is expected to take office tomorrow with 64 other ministers. The swearing-in is scheduled for 1730 hours.

Dr Singh was appointed to head the new government by President Pratibha Patil yesterday after he was chosen the leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party earlier in the day. Dr Singh and Ms Gandhi had gone together to meet the President yesterday evening to stake claim on behalf of the UPA to form the next government.

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Manmohan Singh to be sworn in for second term Friday

Dr Manmohan Singh will be sworn in for a second straight term as Prime Minister of India on Friday, an official announcement said here Wednesday.

Dr Manmohan Singh will be sworn in for a second straight term as Prime Minister of India on Friday, an official announcement said here today.

President Pratibha Patil has appointed him as the Prime Minister and requested him to indicate the members of the new Council of Ministers, a Rashtrapati Bhavan communique said.
President Pratibha Patil with the Prime Minister-Designate, Dr. Manmohan Singh and the UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi, after inviting Dr. Manmohan Singh to form the new government, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi May 20, 2009.
President Pratibha Patil with the Prime Minister-Designate, Dr. Manmohan Singh and the UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi, after inviting Dr. Manmohan Singh to form the new government, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi May 20, 2009.

The timing of the swearing-in ceremony will be announced later.

Earlier, Dr Singh, who had been chosen yesterday as the Leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP), accompanied by CPP Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, had called on the President at 1700 hours today.

They staked claim on behalf of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to form the next government after having won a clear mandate in the just-concluded elections to the Lok Sabha. They also handed over to the President letters of support extended to them by various political parties and others.

"The President having satisfied herself, on the basis of various letters of support received, that the Congress-led UPA alliance, which is also the largest pre-election alliance, is in a position to command majority support of the newly constituted 15th Lok Sabha and to form a stable Government, appointed Dr. Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister and requested him to indicate the members of the new Council of Ministers," the communique said.

"The President will administer Oaths of Office and Secrecy on Friday, 22nd May, 2009 at a mutually convenient time which will be decided soon," it added.

Both Ms Gandhi and Dr Singh talked briefly to reporters on emerging from Rashtrapati Bhavan after the meeting. Ms Gandhi said she had informed the President that Dr Singh had been chosen leader of the CPP. Dr Singh said he apprised the President of the support extended to the UPA allies by various parties. He said the UPA had 274 members in the Lok Sabha on its side. With the support from outside extended to it by parties such as the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the number of MPs backing the alliance added up to 322, he said.

Dr Singh also read out to reporters the letter given to him by the President inviting him to form the next government.

The President has not asked Dr Singh to prove his majority in the Lok Sabha, obviously convinced of the support he enjoyed in the house.

Earlier this morning, UPA leaders met at the residence of Ms Gandhi and formally re-elected her as the chairperson of the alliance. Her name was proposed by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader M Karunanidhi and seconded by Trinamool (TC) president Mamata Banerjee.

The TC with 19 seats in the newly-elected Lok Sabha and the DMK with 18 members are the two largest constituents of the UPA after the Congress, which has won 206 seats.

With several other parties outside the alliance, such as the Samajwadi Party (23), the Bahujan Samaj Party (21) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (4), also extended support from outside to the UPA, the alliance has the backing of about 314 of the 543 elected members of the Lower House of Parliament, much more than the 272 needed for a simple majority.

The Lok Sabha has 545 members in all, including two members of the Anglo-Indian community nominated by the President.

Among others who attended the UPA meeting were Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi and other party leaders such as Pranab Mukherjee, Ahmed Patel, P Chidambaram and A K Antony, Mr Dayanidhi Maran of the DMK, Mr Sharad Pawar and Mr Praful Patel of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Mr Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference (NC), Mr Shibu Soren of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Mr E Ahamed of the Muslim League and Mr K M Mani of the Kerala Congress (Mani).

Ms Gandhi told the meeting that the mandate received by the alliance from the people in the just-concluded elections had cast a great responsibility onthe UPA. She sought the cooperation of the UPA constituents to provide a strong and effective government that would work for the welfare of all sections.

Dr Singh referred to the promises made to the people by the alliance and the importance of delivering on them.

He said the policies and flagship programmes implemented by the UPA government in its first five-year term would be continued into the second term. He said internal security would be accorded high priority by the new government.

Leaders of the other UPA constituents who spoke at the meeting stressed the need for providing a strong, stable and effective government that would work for the welfare of all sections, especially the poor.

The meeting decided to set up a committee to study the election manifestoes of the constituent parties and work out a common programme.

Yesterday, the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) had met and chosen Dr Singh as its leader again. The 76-year-old economist-turned-politician will also be the leader of the Rajya Sabha, being a member of the Upper House from Assam.

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Manmohan, Sonia to meet President today to stake claim

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and PM Manmohan Singh will meet President Pratibha Patil at Rashtrapati Bhavan here this evening to stake the Congress-led coalition's claim to form the next government.

United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will meet President Pratibha Patil at Rashtrapati Bhavan here this evening to stake the Congress-led coalition's claim to form the next government.

The two leaders will meet the President at 1700 hours, Congress spokesman Janardan Dwivedi told journalists after a meeting of the UPA leaders at Ms Gandhi's residence this morning.

The President is expected to invite Dr Singh to form the next government and he is likely to be sworn in for a second term on Friday.

Earlier, the meeting unanimously re-elected Ms Gandhi as the chairperson of the UPA. Her name was proposed by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader M Karunanidhi and seconded by Trinamool  (TC) president Mamata Banerjee.

The TC with 19 seats in the newly-elected Lok Sabha and the DMK with 18 members are the two largest constituents of the UPA after the Congress, which has won 206 seats.

With several other parties outside the alliance, such as the Samajwadi Party (23), the Bahujan Samaj Party (21) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (4), also extended support from outside to the UPA, the alliance has the backing of about 314 of the 543 elected members of the Lower House of Parliament, much more than the 272 needed for a simple majority.

The Lok Sabha has 545 members in all, including two members of the Anglo-Indian community nominated by the President.

Among others who attended the UPA meeting were Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi and other party leaders such as Pranab Mukherjee, Ahmed Patel, P Chidambaram and A K Antony, Mr Dayanidhi Maran of the DMK, Mr Sharad Pawar and Mr Praful Patel of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Mr Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference (NC), Mr Shibu Soren of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Mr E Ahamed of the Muslim League and Mr K M Mani of the Kerala Congress (Mani).

Ms Gandhi told the meeting that the mandate received by the alliance from the people in the just-concluded elections had cast a great responsibility onthe UPA. She sought the cooperation of the UPA constituents to provide a strong and effective government that would work for the welfare of all sections.

Dr Singh referred to the promises made to the people by the alliance and the importance of delivering on them.

He said the policies and flagship programmes implemented by the UPA government in its first five-year term would be continued into the second term. He said internal security would be accorded high priority by the new government.

Leaders of the other UPA constituents who spoke at the meeting stressed the need for providing a strong, stable and effective government that would work for the welfare of all sections, especially the poor.

The meeting decided to set up a committee to study the election manifestoes of the constituent parties and work out a common programme.

Yesterday, the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) had met and chosen Dr Singh as its leader again.

The 76-year-old economist-turned-politician will also be the leader of the Rajya Sabha, being a member of the Upper House from Assam.

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Singh chosen CPP leader, likely to be sworn-in Friday

The Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) met here Tuesday and chose Dr. Manmohan Singh as its leader again, setting the stage for him to be sworn in for a second term as PM at the head of a United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government on Friday.

The Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) met here today and chose Dr Manmohan Singh as its leader again, setting the stage for him to be sworn in for a second term as Prime Minister at the head of a Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government on Friday.

The 76-year-old economist-turned-politician was named as the CPP leader by party president Sonia Gandhi, a move that was promptly endorsed by the meeting. Ms Gandhi herself was unanimously elected Chairperson of the CPP. Dr Singh will also be the leader of the Rajya Sabha, having been elected to the Upper House of Parliament from Assam.

Leaders of the UPA will meet here tomorrow and are expected to formally endorse Dr Singh's name for the Prime Minister's position. Later tomorrow, Dr Singh and Ms Gandhi are expected to call on President Pratibha Patil and formally stake claim to form the next government.

After getting a formal invitation to form the new government, Dr Singh is likely to be sworn in on Friday.

Meanwhile, hectic political activity continued in the national capital over the composition of the new Council of Ministers. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, whose DMK has been a staunch ally of the Congress, has already arrived here for talks in this regard with Ms Gandhi and Dr Singh. Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee, whose party is the second largest in the UPA now with 19 seats, is expected to reach here tomorrow.

The big development of the day, of course, was the unconditional support from outside that the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati has extended to the UPA government. The BSP has 21 seats in the new Lok Sabha.

A little later, her bitter rival Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party, with 23 MPs, also pledged support to the government as did Lalu Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal (4) and a host of other parties.

Ms Mayawati announced her decision at a meeting of the office-bearers of her party in Lucknow.

Her party had been part of the Third Front and had campaigned hard against the Congress during the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections. She said the BSP had taken the decision keeping in view of the present situation in the country and the need to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by it out of power at the Centre.

The BSP supremo said she had rung up both Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Dr Singh on May 16, the day the election results came out, to congratulate them on the UPA's comprehensive victory in the Lok Sabha elections.

Ms Mayawati said that during her conversation with Dr Singh on that day he had described her as his younger sister and requested her to extend her party's constructive support to the new government so that secular forces could be strengthened.

She said her party's leadership had met this morning and discussed these issues before taking the decision to support the UPA government from outside.

Political observers felt Ms Mayawati's decision could at least partly be attributed to the fact that there are several cases pending against her with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Secondly, the decision would help to vastly reduce the importance of her arch rival Mulayam Singh Yadav.

BSP General Secretary Satish Chandra Mishra met the President this evening and handed over a letter from Ms Mayawati on the support to the UPA government.

Soon after Ms Maywati's announcement, SP General Secretary Amar Singh met the President and handed over a letter of support for the formation of a Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

In the letter, Mr Amar Singh told the President he had been authorised by party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav to pledge the SP's support to the government.

Talking to reporters outside Rashtrapati Bhavan after meeting the President, Mr Amar Singh said the Prime Minister had, during their conversations, requested his party's support to the new government.
 
The SP, though an ally of the UPA, had decided to fight the elections on its own in UP after failing to reach a seat-sharing arrangement with the Congress. It had formed the so-called Fourth Front with the RJD and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) of Ram Vilas Paswan, both of which had also decided to fight the elections alone. As things turned out, the RJD ended up with just four seats and the LJP with none, vastly reducing their bargaining power vis-a-vis the Congress.

Mr Amar Singh described Ms Mayawati's announcement as "political opportunism", saying she had chosen to support the UPA when it was very clear that the alliance did not need such support and had enough seats in the 545-member Lok Sabha, in which 543 members are elected and two are nominated from the Anglo-Indian community.

The SP leader denied his party was indulging in opportunism. He pointed out that it was his party that had come to rescue of the Manmohan Singh government when the Left parties had withdrawn support to it on the issue of the India-US civil nuclear cooperation agreement.

He said it was his party's support which helped save the government at that time and helped clear the nuclear deal. "Otherwise neither the government nor the deal would have been saved," he said.

He also said that the two parties had discussed seat sharing before the elections but could not come to an agreement because the Congress had sought more seats for itself than the SP was willing to concede.

There is continuing speculation in the national capital about whether the UPA would invite the SP to join the government. The SP appears to be keen on being part of the government, but many people in the Congress feel the party should stick only to its pre-poll allies and not have anything to do with the SP.

Here again, it must be mentioned that Mr Yadav has several cases against him in the CBI and it would not hurt him to be on the right side of the dispensation at the Centre. Further, he too would not want rival Mayawati to cosy up too much to the Congress.

Other parties which have handed over letters to the President extending support to the UPA government are the RJD (4 seats), the Bodoland People's Front (1), the Sikkim Democratic Front (1), and the Nagaland People's Front (1).

In the morning, addressing the CPP, Ms Gandhi said the generous mandate received by the party from the people came with onerous responsibilities.

"We have won an election but also undertaken a serious obligation. We have awakened new hopes, and it is now our task to respond to the very aspirations that have brought us this day to this Hall in these numbers," she said.

"Friends, we are deeply grateful to the people of our country for the trust they have placed in us. This is a tribute to our party's ideology, our government's polices and programmes and the hard work put in by lakhs of ordinary Congressmen and women throughout the country.

"We were able to go out and convince the people that their future is secure in the hands of a party and government that is committed to secularism, and works for development, equality and inclusiveness. We have earned their support and we must keep their trust. We must never forget that we are here first and foremost in their service," she said

Ms Gandhi urged the newly-elected members of Parliament to meet the great expectations that the election has aroused.

"We have seen that notions such as anti-incumbency, and pulls and pressures from caste or region, can be overcome by dedication and real work.

"This is what now awaits us. As parliamentarians, we have a call to strengthen our links and dialogue with those whom we serve. The people must feel our presence, sense our intentions and bear witness to our concern for them. As party members, whether occupying government office or not, whether having a position in the organization or not, we have a duty to remain disciplined and united, putting party before self. As individuals, we have an obligation to project values of integrity and character," she said.

Ms Gandhi also spoke of the need to restore the decorum of political discourse and raising Parliament once again to a pre-eminent forum of dignified debate and decision-making.

"The people's verdict tells us that above all else they crave honest and capable governance and decency in public life. We must not disappoint them," she said.

Ms Gandhi praised the leadership provided by Dr Singh to the government during the last five years as she named him for the position of Prime Minister.

"His record of the past five years speaks for itself and we look forward to his leadership in the coming years. His dignified, determined and effective leadership of the government has been an inspiration for us all and has received overwhelming approval from the people of our country. Let us all congratulate him and wish him well," she added.

Accepting the responsibility, Dr Singh pledged to work with sincerity and dedication for the party and for the people of India.

He said it was the inspirational leadership of Ms Gandhi, the enterprise and ingenuity of her son and party General Secretary Rahul Gandhi and dedication and hard work of each member of the party that had made the electoral victory possible.

"This is a historic victory for the Congress Party. After years of hard work we have once again regained the centre-stage of our nation's political life. The Congress Party has always been a mirror to our society. We have always represented the plurality and the composite culture of our great nation. Together we represent every region, every community, every section of this vast sub¬-continent. No other political party can make that claim," he said.

Dr Singh said the people had, by their mandate, "rubbished the fashionable theory of anti-incumbency."

"But we have to work harder and better to secure a wholesome mandate entirely in our favour. That is the challenge before our party and our Government," he said.

The Prime Minister said the new mandate came with the challenge of rising expectations. He said the yough had voted in large numbers for the party.

"But it is in the nature of youth to be impatient. They will not tolerate 'business as usual'. They expect us to work with renewed energy. They expect the Government to cater to their aspirations. They expect a more responsive Government. They expect a more efficient Government.

"Hence, our first priority will have to be to re-energise Government and improve governance. We have to make government more efficient and effective, more responsive and active," he said.

Dr Singh said equally important was the challenge of reviving economic growth and creating new employment opportunities. He said the UPA government had delivered  higher growth and more inclusive growth over the past five years. But the global economic slowdown had hurt the country and there was some slowing down of investment and employment generation. He said this had to be reversed while reviving growth and making it even more exclusive.

He said each minister would be asked to set time-bound targets for implementation of the party's election promises and the various programmes and policies of each ministry. He said a quarterly review would be undertaken of programme implementation by each ministry.

Apart from the economic challenges, the Prime Minister referred to the problems in India's neighbourhood which remained troubled by civil conflict, extremism and terrorism.

"We need a Government that is vigilant and effective in dealing with the threat of terrorism and extremism. I assure you that we will not be found wanting in this regard. The assurance of internal security is a top most priority for us. Equally important is maintenance of communal harmony and peace. The Union Government will work closely with State Governments in this regard," he said.

Dr Singh said his government would work with State governments to ensure better implementation of welfare schemes, especially the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, National Rural Health Mission, Jawahar Lal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission and programmes for the welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and minorities.

"This election verdict is a verdict for inclusive growth. It is a verdict for equitable development. It is a verdict for a secular and plural India. It is a verdict in favour of the basic values, the ideas and ideals, that inspired our national movement for freedom and define our Constitution.

"Hence, ensuring that our growth process is socially and regionally inclusive and equitable will be a priority for us. Ensuring that people of all regions, all religions, all languages and castes benefit from growth will be a priority for us.

"But to make growth inclusive we must also ensure that we can sustain growth. This requires new investment. This requires creating a social and political environment in which new investment can be made. This requires better management of our finances. This requires reform of the economy. This requires revitalisation of agriculture and acceleration of industrial development. We have to continue to keep our savings and investment rates high and become more globally competitive so that we can face global economic challenges," he said.

Dr Singh hoped the 15th Lok Sabha would witness a more cooperative atmosphere and more productive proceedings.

"We will extend a hand of friendship to members of all political parties, cutting across the political spectrum, and invite them to play the role of a constructive opposition," he said.

"The five years in front of us could well be a decisive half decade. If we can sustain the growth rates of the last five years, we can reduce poverty, create new employment, accelerate rural development and industrialisation, transform the lives of our people. The period ahead could be decisive. We must grasp the nettle firmly and forge ahead," he added.

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Manmohan resigns as PM, to begin second term later this week

Armed with a clear and decisive mandate from the people for a second term in office, PM Manmohan Singh Monday tendered his resignation to President Pratibha Patil as the process of forming the new government continued apace.

Armed with a clear and decisive mandate from the people for a second term in office, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today tendered his resignation and that of his colleagues in the Council of Ministers to President Pratibha Patil as the process of forming the new government continued apace.
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh calls on the President Pratibha Patil, after the conclusion of the last meeting of the Council of Ministers of the 14th Lok Sabha, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, today.
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh calls on the President Pratibha Patil, after the conclusion of the last meeting of the Council of Ministers of the 14th Lok Sabha, at Rashtrapati Bhavan, today.

An official announcement said the President had accepted the resignation and requested Dr Singh and the Council of Ministers to continue in office till alternative arrangements are said.

Earlier in the day, the Union Cabinet met this morning and recommended to the President the dissolution of the 14th Lok Sabha, now that the elections to choose the 15th Lok Sabha are over.

The President has accepted the recommendation and signed an order dissolving the Lower House of Parliament.

The Council of Ministers also held a meeting today at which Dr Singh thanked the allies of the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) for their support to the government during the last five years.

Meanwhile, Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla and the other two Election Commissioners, S Y Qureshi and V S Sampath, met President Patil today and submitted to her the list of the 543 new elected representatives of the people, marking the formal constitution of the 15th Lok Sabha.
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh presiding over the last meeting of the Council of Ministers in New Delhi, today.
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh presiding over the last meeting of the Council of Ministers in New Delhi, today.

With the completion of the election process, the model code of conduct, that was in force for the past several weeks since the dates of the elections were announced, is no longer in place.

Hectic political activity continued in the national capital and elsewhere as the process of government formation moved ahead.

There continued to be speculation about the individuals who might or might not be inducted in the new Cabinet and the portfolios that the allies might get.

For instance, talk continued today about the possibility of Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia being inducted as the new Finance Minister. Reports suggested Dr Singh was keen on bringing in Dr Ahluwalia, who like him is a technocrat. But there were also reports that several people in the Congress were opposed to such a move. They feel the job should go to a politician.

Speculation also continued about whether Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi would join the Cabinet or not. Mr Gandhi himself has indicated that he would prefer to work for the party and help empower the youth of the country. But the Prime Minister has said that he would like Mr Gandhi in the Cabinet.

Meetings continued throughout the day to discuss the role of the allies and of the three parties in the Fourth Front---the Samajwadi Party (SP) of Mulayam Singh Yadav, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of Lalu Prasad and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) of Ram Vilas Paswan.

The three parties, though allies of the UPA, decided to go it alone in the elections after failing to reach agreement on seat sharing with the Congress. The SP has emerged as the single largest party in Uttar Pradesh with 23 seats, the RJD has four seats and the LJP none.

There is a strong feeling within the Congress that it should not do business with these parties and stick instead only to its pre-poll allies.

The Congress has said that it would take a final view on the issue only after discussing it with its pre-poll allies on Wednesday.

Both the SP and the RJD have said that they would support the UPA and also indicated that they would be keen on joining the government but not, as SP leader Amar Singh put it, at the cost of their self-esteem. Both Mr Amar Singh and Mr Lalu Prasad today complained about the manner in which they had been treated by some Congress leaders. Mr Amar Singh made special mention of senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh and Commerce Minister Kamal Nath.

Mr Amar Singh told television channels tonight that he had been assured by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the comments made about the allies by such leaders had not been authorised by the party leadership.

Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Bannerjee has, meanwhile, given indications that she might prefer to stay back in West Bengal and work to strengthen her party and prepare it for the 2011 state assembly elections. But it is likely that her party would get two or three places in the Council of Ministers.

There is a fair chance that Home Minister P Chidambaram, who is credited with having done a good job of handling the all-important portfolio, especially after the November 26, 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai, will continue in the post.

Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal might be made the new Human Resource Development Minister, political observers felt.

There is talk that Mr Anand Sharma, who is currently holding additional charge of Information and Broadcasting because of the illness of Mr Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, might get the job on a full-time basis. Former United Nations Under Secretary-General Shashi Tharoor, who won on a Congress ticket from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, is also a near certainty for a ministerial job, most probably as Minister of State for External Affairs.

From within the Congress, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, former Union Ministers Salman Khurshid, Meira Kumar and Sushil Kumar Shinde and Mallikarjun Kharge are being mentioned as possible ministers.

Among the younger MPs, people like Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot, Jitin Prasada, Milind Deora and Priya Dutt are some of the likely candidates.

Given the fact that the Congress alone has won 206 seats on its own, the party might find it difficult to spare too many ministerial posts for its allies. In 2004, the Left parties, who had 60-plus seats, preferred to offer support to the government from outside, making it possible for the Congress to accomodate more allies in the Council of Ministers.

This time, the Congress is also keen to ensure that it does not get pushed around by any of the allies or supporting parties and is likely to talk tough with them right from the start.

Mr Sharad Pawar and Mr Praful Patel of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Mr Farooq Abdullah of the National Congress (NC), and Mr M K Azhagiri and Ms Kanimozhi of the DMK are some of the allies who might be included in the Council of Ministers.

In other developments, the Bharatiya Janata Party's Prime Ministerial candidate Lal Krishna Advani, who had resigned as Leader of the Opposition after the party's poor performance in the elections, today agreed to continue in the past in the new Lok Sabha.

This came about after senior BJP, including party president Rajnath Singh, met Mr Advani at his residence and requested him to continue in the position.

The politburo of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) met here today to consider the reasons for the electoral reverses suffered by the party in the Lok Sabha elections. Party leaders who attended the meeting said later that Mr Prakash Karat would continue as its General Secretary.

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Manmohan set to be PM again as UPA scores stunning win

The ruling Congress-led UPA was Saturday poised to retain power for another term with a spectcular win in about 260 seats as results and counting trends became available from all 543 constituencies in the Lok Sabha elections.

In a clear and decisive mandate for stability and development, the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was today poised to retain power for another term with a spectcular win in about 260 seats as results and counting trends became available from all 543 constituencies in the Lok Sabha elections.
Some passers-by watching the electronic digital display board at the office of the Election Commission of India displaying the results of General Elections 2009, in New Delhi today.
Some passers-by watching the electronic digital display board at the office of the Election Commission of India displaying the results of General Elections 2009, in New Delhi today.

The opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) headed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fell far short of its expectations and could end up with about 159 seats in the Lower House of Parliament.

For the Left parties, it was a humbling experience, and the Third Front spearheaded by it was likely to end up with about 68 seats.

The Fourth Front, comprising three allies of the UPA--Samajwadi Party (SP), the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Lok Janashakti Party (LJP)---had won or was leading in 27 constituencies. Others accounted for 29.

Assembly elections were also held simultaneously in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Sikkim. In Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister Y Rajasekhara Reddy led the Congress to another term in office, as did Naveen Patnaik of the Biju Janata Dal in Orissa. In Sikkim, the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) made a clean sweep of all 32 assembly and the lone Lok Sabha seat. The victory gives Pawan Kumar Chamling a fourth consecutive term in office.

The counting of votes began this morning at 0800 hours and all the results are expected to be n by tonight, bringing the month-long electoral exercise to an end.

The numbers indicated that the UPA on its own was pretty close to the half-way mark of 272 in the house and Congress leaders said during the day that the mood in the party was to desist from seeking support from members of the Third or the Fourth Front.

Some party leaders felt that the UPA could garner the necessary numbers for forming the next government by accepting the support of some independents and small parties. The feeling in the party was that it should restrict itself to the support of only those parties who were with it as part of a pre-poll alliance.

BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate L K Advani, who retained his own seat from Gandhinagar, offered to step down as Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, which the party did not accept. Mr Advani also rang up Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to congratulate them on the UPA's victory.

Of the NDA tally, the BJP itself was likely to end up with only about 116, as many as 22 seats less than the 138 won by it in the last elections in 2004.

The Congress is likely to end up with about 205 seats on its own, a vast improvement on its 2004 performance, thanks to stunning gains in Uttar Pradesh. where it was ahead in about 20 seats, Andhra Pradesh (29), Rajasthan (19), Kerala (13), Maharashtra (17) and Madhya Pradesh (11). It won all seven seats in Delhi and exceeded expectations in the company of the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and of the DMK in Tamil Nadu.

"It has become clear that Congress and the alliance led by it has emerged as the largest coalition...though there was no clear majority," BJP General Secretary Arun Jaitley told journalists. He said his party honoured the mandate of the people with "due respect."

He pointed out that the party had done well in some states but below expectations in others. He termed the overall low tally as a "collective failure".

The BJP Parliamentary Board met here this evening to discuss the results and said that though no party or alliance had got a clear majority, the best mandate to rule was in favour of the UPA.

"India needs political stability. It needs to put the National Economy on track. It needs to strengthen National Security. For these challenges people have given a mandate to the UPA leadership to govern. The BJP and its allies while acting as a constructive opposition will fully co-operate with the government in strengthening India.

"The BJP and the NDA have not fared upto their own expectations. We have got lesser seats than expected. We did well in several states while in some states our performance is below our expectations. We will analyze these results.

"The BJP accepts the mandate of the people of India with all humility. We shall do our utmost to honour the spirit of this mandate," the party said in a statement after the meeting.

"The CPI-M and Left parties have suffered a major setback in this election. This necessitates serious examination of the reasons for the party's poor performance," CPI-M General Secretary Prakash Karat told journalists here after the Left suffered a rout in its strongholds of West Bengal and Kerala.

The CPI-M polit bureau would meet here on Monday to analyse the party's poor performance, he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Singh is expected to meet President Pratibha Patil on Monday to tender the resignation of his Council of Ministers. The President is likely to ask him to continue in office till a new governnment takes over. Before that, the Council of Ministers is scheduled to hold its last meeting on Monday morning.

Dr Singh will be creating a record of sorts by becoming the first Prime Minister after Jawaharlal Nehru to win a second innings in office after completing a full five-year term.

About 59 per cent of the 714 million voters had cast their votes in the five phases of polling between April 16 and May 13.

The counting of votes took place at 1080 counting centres across the country. About 60,000 people were deployed by the Election Commission for the task.

The Lok Sabha has 545 seats, including two members of the Anglo-Indian community who are nominated by the President.

The tenure of the present Lok Sabha will expire in the normal course on June 1 and a new House is required to be constituted before June 2, as per the constitutional provisions.

Meanwhile, the Lok Sabha Secretariat has made elaborate arrangements to receive and guide the newly-elected members of Parliament.

Among other things, guide posts are being set up at the airport and railway stations in Delhi so that they do not face any difficulties on arrival in the capital.

Lok Sabha Secretary General P D T Achary said these guide posts would function from today until May 24.

Special facilities have also been set up in the Lok Sabha Secretariat to help the new members complete various formalities.

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UPA ahead in 182, NDA in 118 in early trends

The ruling Congress-led UPA was leading in 182 constituencies and the opposition NDA headed by the BJP was ahead in 118 in early trends as counting of votes in the Lok Sabha elections was taken up Saturday across the country.

The ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was leading in 182 constituencies and the opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) headed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was ahead in 118 in early trends as counting of votes in the Lok Sabha elections was taken up today across the country.
Passers-by watching the electronic board outside the Election Commission office (Nirvachan Sadan) displaying the results of the General Elections 2009 as they come in, today.
Passers-by watching the electronic board outside the Election Commission office (Nirvachan Sadan) displaying the results of the General Elections 2009 as they come in, today.

The Left parties and the others in the Third Front were leading in 55 seats while others were ahead in 26, the trends showed .

The counting of votes began this morning at 0800 hours as the month-long electoral exercise drew to a close. All the results are expected to be out by late afternoon or early evening.

About 59 per cent of the 714 million voters had cast their votes in five phases of polling between April 16 and May 13.

The counting for 543 Lok Sabha seats is taking place at 1080 counting centres across the country. About 60,000 people have been deployed by the Election Commission for the task.

The counting is being witnessed by micro-observers deployed at every counting table by the Election Commission as well as by counting agents of the candidates.

Exit polls conducted by various media organisations have given the Congress and the ruling United Progessive Alliance (UPA) led by it an edge over the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) headed by it.

The Lok Sabha has 545 seats, including two members of the Anglo-Indian community who are nominated by the President.

The tenure of the present Lok Sabha will expire in the normal course on June 1 and a new House is required to be constituted before June 2, as per the constitutional provisions.

Counting of votes is also being conducted today in the elections to the state legislative assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Sikkim, which were held along with the Lok Sabha elections.

On the eve of the counting, there was hectic political activity in the national capital yesterday with leaders of all the political parties engaged in informal talks with partners and potential allies as the focus slowly shifted to the task of forming the next government.

The Election Commission has set up a website (http://eciresults.nic.in/)for displaying authentic trends and results of the elections.

Meanwhile, the Lok Sabha Secretariat has made elaborate arrangements to receive and guide the newly-elected members of Parliament.

Among other things, guide posts are being set up at the airport and railway stations in Delhi so that they do not face any difficulties on arrival in the capital.

Lok Sabha Secretary General P D T Achary said these guide posts would function from today  until May 24.

Special facilities have also been set up in the Lok Sabha Secretariat to help the new members complete various formalities.

All India Radio has also made elaborate arrangements for broadcasting the election results tomorrow. Apart from special hourly bulletins, there will be special bilingual programmes in English and Hindi on trends, results, analysis and reactions as well as on the post-poll scenario.

These programmes will also be available live on the internet at http://webcast.gov.in/newsonair/index.html.

The Press Information Bureau will operate the Media Centres in its premises from 8.00 a.m. to 9.30 p.m. here and at its 40 regional and branch offices across the country tomorrow.

The Media Centres will have the provisions for television-sets and internet linked computers to provide the latest trends and updates on the election results for the visiting journalists. Press releases would be issued on the State Tallies and a National Tally after all the results are declared by the Election Commission.

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Elections 2009: Verdict on Saturday

Counting of votes in the Lok Sabha elections will be taken up Saturday across the country, bringing to an end what is often described as the most vigorous democratic exercise in the world.

Counting of votes in the Lok Sabha elections  will be taken up tomorrow across the country, bringing to an end what is often described as the most vigorous democratic exercise in the world.
The Secretary-General, Lok Sabha, P. D. T. Achary briefing the press regarding arrangements being made for the newly-elected members of the 15th Lok Sabha, in New Delhi today.
The Secretary-General, Lok Sabha, P. D. T. Achary briefing the press regarding arrangements being made for the newly-elected members of the 15th Lok Sabha, in New Delhi today.

The month-long exercise, which began on April 16, saw about 60 per cent of the 714 million voters casting their votes in five phases of polling that ended on May 13.

The counting of votes for 543 Lok Sabha seats will take place at 1080 counting centres across the country. About 60,000 people have been deployed by the Election Commission for the task.

Counting will begin at 0800 hours and early trends are expected within 60-90 minutes. All the results are expected to be out by late afternoon or early evening.

The counting will be witnessed by micro-observers deployed at every counting table by the Election Commission as well as by counting agents of the candidates.

Exit polls conducted by various media organisations have given the Congress and the ruling United Progessive Alliance (UPA) led by it an edge over the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) headed by it.

The Lok Sabha has 545 seats, including two members of the Anglo-Indian community who are nominated by the President.

The tenure of the present Lok Sabha will expire in the normal course on June 1 and a new House is required to be constituted before June 2, as per the constitutional provisions.

Counting of votes will also be taken up tomorrow in the elections to the state legislative assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Sikkim, which were held along with the Lok Sabha elections.

On the eve of the counting, there was hectic political activity in the national capital with leaders of all the political parties engaged in informal talks with partners and potential allies as the focus slowly shifted to the task of forming the next government.

The Election Commission has set up a website (http://eciresults.nic.in/) for displaying authentic trends and results of the elections.

Meanwhile, the Lok Sabha Secretariat has made elaborate arrangements to receive and guide the newly-elected members of Parliament.

Among other things, guide posts are being set up at the airport and railway stations in Delhi so that they do not face any difficulties on arrival in the capital.

Lok Sabha Secretary General P D T Achary said these guide posts would function from tomorrow until May 24.

Special facilities have also been set up in the Lok Sabha Secretariat to help the new members complete various formalities.

All India Radio has also made elaborate arrangements for broadcasting the election results tomorrow. Apart from special hourly bulletins, there will be special bilingual programmes in English and Hindi on trends, results, analysis and reactions as well as on the post-poll scenario.

These programmes will also be available live on the internet at http://webcast.gov.in/newsonair/index.html.

The Press Information Bureau will operate the Media Centres in its premises from 8.00 a.m. to 9.30 p.m. here and at its 40 regional and branch offices across the country tomorrow.

The Media Centres will have the provisions for television-sets and internet linked computers to provide the latest trends and updates on the election results for the visiting journalists. Press releases would be issued on the State Tallies and a National Tally after all the results are declared by the Election Commission.

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62% cast votes in final round of polling in LS elections

About 62 per cent of the 107.8 million strong electorate cast their votes in 86 constituencies in seven states and two Union Territories that went to the polls Wednesday in the fifth and final round of voting for the Lok Sabha elections.

About 62 per cent of the 107.8 million strong electorate cast their votes in 86 constituencies in seven states and two Union Territories that went to the polls today in the fifth and final round of voting for the Lok Sabha elections, which are considered the most vigorous democratic exercise in the world.
Voters in a queue to cast their vote at a polling booth at Davesamaj College for Women, during the 5th and final phase of the General Elections - 2009, in Chandigarh today.
Voters in a queue to cast their vote at a polling booth at Davesamaj College for Women, during the 5th and final phase of the General Elections - 2009, in Chandigarh today.

With this, about 59 to 60 per cent of the 714 million voters had exercised their franchise in the month-long elections, official sources said.

Exit polls conducted by various televison channels gave the Congress, which is leading the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) a slight edge over its main rival, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is leading the National Democratic Alliance.

The final round of voting today was by and large peaceful, barring stray cases of violence which left two people dead.

All 39 constituencies in Tamil Nadu went to the polls today and the state recorded a turnout of about 60-62 per cent.

In Uttar Pradesh, where voting was held for 14 seats, the percentage of voting was about 52, while 70 per cent of the voters turned out in 11 constituencies of West Bengal.

Among those whose electoral fortunes were sealed today are Home Minister P Chidambaram, Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal, Trinamool Congress president Mamata Banerjee, MDMK general secretary Vaiko and the BJP's Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Varun Gandhi and his mother Maneka Gandhi.

Some of the other key contestants include Union Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, former Indian cricket captain Mohammed Azharuddin and his team-mate Navjyot Singh Sidhu, film stars Jayaprada and Vinod Khanna and DMK leaders T R Baalu and Dayanidhi Maran.

In all, 1432 candidates, including 93 women, were in the fray for this phase of polling.

Counting of votes will be taken up on May 16 and results of all the 543 seats are expected to be out by that evening.

Voting was also held today for four seats in Himachal Pradesh, two in Jammu and Kashmir, nine in Punjab, five in Uttarakhand, one in Chandigarh and one in Puducherry.

Among the national parties, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party had fielded candidates in 83 of the constituencies that went to the polls today, followed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 53, Congress in 49, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) in 14, the Communist Party of India (CPI) in seven, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in six and the Rashtriya Janata dal (RJD) in one,

State parties accounted for 192 candidates, unrecognised parties for 248 and independents for 779, official figures showed.

Polling began at 0700 hours and ended at 1700 hours in all constituencies. As many as 1,21,632 polling stations were set up for this round.

The exercise to choose the 15th Lok Sabha began on April 16 with the first round of polling, followed by the second round on April 23, the third on April 30 and the fourth on May 7.

The Lok Sabha has 545 seats, including two members of the Anglo-Indian community who are nominated by the President.

The tenure of the present Lok Sabha will expire in the normal course on June 1 and a new House is required to be constituted before June 2, as per the constitutional provisions.

The Election Commission expressed immense satisfaction about the five phases of polling.

Polling was also held for the state legislative assemblies of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Sikkim along with the Lok Sabha elections.

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Final round of voting begins on moderate note

Polling began Wednesday morning on a moderate note in 86 constituencies in seven states and two Union Territories in the fifth and final phase of polling in the Lok Sabha elections.

Polling began this morning on a  moderate note in 86 constituencies in seven states and two Union Territories in the fifth and final phase of polling in the Lok Sabha elections, described often as the most vigorous democratic exercise in the world.
Polling officials assembling to report for poll-duties for the fifth and final phase of General Elections - 2009 at Salt Lake in Kolkata on yesterday.
Polling officials assembling to report for poll-duties for the fifth and final phase of General Elections - 2009 at Salt Lake in Kolkata on yesterday.

This round of voting will determine the electoral fate of such stalwarts as Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal, Trinamool Congress president Mamata Banerjee, MDMK general secretary Vaiko and the Bhartiya Janata Party's Muktar Abbas Naqvi, Varun Gandhi and his mother Maneka Gandhi.

Some of the other key contestants include Union Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, former Indian cricket captain Mohammed Azharuddin and his team-mate Navjyot Singh Sidhu, film stars Jayaprada and Vinod Khanna and DMK leaders T R Baalu and Dayanidhi Maran.

In all, 1432 candidates, including 93 women, are in the fray for this phase of polling that will involve a total electorate of about 107.8 million.

Counting of votes will be taken up on May 16 and results of all the 543 seats are expected to be out by that evening.

Voting is being held today in all 39 constituencies in Tamil Nadu, four in Himachal Pradesh, two in Jammu and Kashmir, nine in Punjab, all 39 in Tamil Nadu, 14 in Uttar Pradesh, 11 in West Bengal, five in Uttarakhand, one in Chandigarh and one in Puducherry.

Chennai South in Tamil Nadu has the largest number of contestants at 43 whle Faridkot has the most number of women candidates at five.

Among the national parties, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party has fielded candidates in 83 of the constituencies going to the polls today, followed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 53, Congress in 49, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) in 14, the Communist Party of India (CPI) in seven, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in six and the Rashtriya Janata dal (RJD) in one,

State parties account for 192 candidates, unrecognised parties for 248 and independents for 779, official figures showed.

Polling began at 0700 hours and will end at 1700 hours in all constituencies. As many as 1,21,632 polling stations have been set up for this round.

The exercise to choose the 15th Lok Sabha began on April 16 with the first round of polling, followed by the second round on April 23, the third on April 30 and the fourth on May 7.

The Lok Sabha has 545 seats, including two members of the Anglo-Indian community who are nominated by the President.

The tenure of the present Lok Sabha will expire in the normal course on June 1 and a new House is required to be constituted before June 2, as per the constitutional provisions.

The total electorate in the country, after the latest round of revision of electoral rolls, is about 714 million, an increase of 43 million over the figure for the last Lok Sabha elections in April-May, 2004.

This is the first time that the entire country, except Assam, Nagaland and Jammu and Kashmir, is using Photo Electoral Rolls (covering 522 of the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies and 82 per cent of the voters).

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Final round of polling for elections tomorrow

Polling will be held tomorrow in 86 constituencies in the final phase of the elections that will determine the electoral fate of Home Minister P Chidambaram, Trinamool Congress president Mamata Banerjee, MDMK leader Vaiko and BJP's Muktar Abbas Naqvi, among others.

Polling will be held in 86 constituencies in seven states and two Union Territories in the fifth and final phase of polling in the Lok Sabha elections that will determine the electoral fate of such stalwarts as Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal, Trinamool Congress president Mamata Banerjee, MDMK general secretary Vaiko and the Bhartiya Janata Party's Muktar Abbas Naqvi, Varun Gandhi and his mother Maneka Gandhi, among others.
Polling officials collecting the EVM and other related materials for the 5th phase of General Elections 2009 from one of the distribution centres at Leh, Ladakh today.
Polling officials collecting the EVM and other related materials for the 5th phase of General Elections 2009 from one of the distribution centres at Leh, Ladakh today.

In all, 1432 candidates, including 93 women, are in the fray for this phase of polling that will involve a total electorate of about 107.8 million.

Counting of votes will be taken up on May 16 and all the 543 seats are expected to be out by that evening.

Voting will be held tomorrow in all 39 constituencies in Tamil Nadu, four in Himachal Pradesh, two in Jammu and Kashmir, nine in Punjab, all 39 in Tamil Nadu, 14 in Uttar Pradesh, 11 in West Bengal, five in Uttarakhand, one in Chandigarh and one in Puducherry.

Chennai South in Tamil Nadu has the largest number of contestants at 43 whle Faridkot has the most number of women candidates at five.

Among the national parties, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party has fielded candidates in 83 of the constituencies going to the polls tomorrow, followed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 53, Congress in 49, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) in 14, the Communist Party of India (CPI) in seven, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in six and the Rashtriya Janata dal (RJD) in one,

State parties account for 192 candidates, unrecognised parties for 248 and independents for 779, official figures showed.

Polling will begin at 0700 hours and will end at 1700 hours in all constituencies. As many as 1,21,632 polling stations have been set up for this round.

The exercise to choose the 15th Lok Sabha began on April 16 with the first round of polling, followed by the second round on April 23, the third on April 30 and May 7.

The Lok Sabha has 545 seats, including two members of the Anglo-Indian community who are nominated by the President.

The tenure of the present Lok Sabha will expire in the normal course on June 1 and a new House is required to be constituted before June 2, as per the constitutional provisions.

The total electorate in the country, after the latest round of revision of electoral rolls, is about 714 million, an increase of 43 million over the figure for the last Lok Sabha elections in April-May, 2004.

This is the first time that the entire country, except Assam, Nagaland and Jammu and Kashmir, is using Photo Electoral Rolls (covering 522 of the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies and 82 per cent of the voters).

NNN
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