New Delhi: With a comfortable majority in the Lok Sabha, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will meet President Pratibha Patil to stake claim to form the new government.
This was decided unanimously at a meeting of the leaders of the UPA in which Gandhi was re-elected its chairperson.
At a meeting of the Congress and its pre-poll allies at her residence, Gandhi’s name was proposed by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief M Karunanidhi and seconded by Trinamool Congress (TC) supremo Mamata Banerjee.
TC, with 19 MPs, and DMK with 18 are the two large constituents of the UPA coalition after Congress which has won 216 seats. The coalition has already received support of a large number of parties and it has now the backing of around 315 MPs, much higher than the required 272 for a majority in the 543-member Lok Sabha.
She said Gandhi and Singh would meet the President at their convenience to stake claim.
Banerjee said she had suggested that there should be a common minimum agenda for which a committee should be formed.
She expressed concern over falling jobs and said there should be a relationship between industry and agriculture to protect employment.
She also said that work for all and food for all should be the guiding principle for the new government.
During the discussion on the common agenda, the Trinamool Congress chief said she also raised the issue of protection of minorities’ rights as well as those of scheduled castes and tribes.
Banerjee said she also wanted the new government to formulate a policy on agriculture and implement 33% reservation for women in legislature.
She said the issue of political ”atrocities” in Bengal and Kerala was raised by her.
Besides Banerjee and Karunanidhi, the meeting was attended by NCP chief Sharad Pawar, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, Muslim League leader E Ahamed, JMM leader Shibu Soren and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader Asaduddin Owaisi.
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, Rahul Gandhi, AK Antony also took part in the discussions.