UPA discusses ministerial berths, endorses Sonia as chairperson (Lead)May 20th, 2009 - 2:39 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) Two days before the new government is expected to be sworn in, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) partners met Wednesday to discuss the knotty issue of distribution of ministerial berths and also re-elected Congress president Sonia Gandhi as chairperson of the grouping.
The meeting at Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s 10 Janpath residence was attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the galaxy of UPA leaders, who have bagged 263 seats in the parliamentary elections.
Sonia Gandhi’s name as chairperson of the UPA was proposed by DMK leader and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and seconded by Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee.
Armed with letters of support, the UPA is expected to meet President Pratibha Patil to stake claim to form government later in the day.
Political sources told IANS that the swearing in of the new cabinet was likely to be held Friday.
Among those who attended the UPA meeting from the Congress were Pranab Mukherjee, P. Chidambaram, A.K. Antony and general secretary Rahul Gandhi.
The other members of the Congress-led grouping were there in full strength too - Karunanidhi with grandnephew Dayanidhi Maran, Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel and National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah. Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh, who switched over to UPA after the elections, also attended.
“It was decided unanimously that Soniaji and Manmohanji along with (letters of) support will meet the honourable president,” Trinamool chief Banerjee told reporters.
With 19 seats, the Trinamool Congress is the UPA’s largest ally.
“We discussed about state and national matters. I said there should be a common minimum agenda and committees should be formed so that the concerns of all parties are addressed. This will help in good governance,” she said.
In Banerjee’s view, something should be done about minorities, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. “I talked about special economic zones (SEZ), agriculture policies and the need for a relationship between industrial and agriculture,” said Banerjee.
She also discussed issues of women’s reservation, minority development, unemployment and “atrocities” in West Bengal.
While the wish list of partners like the Trinamool Congress and DMK was still uncertain, National Conference patron Abdullah said his party was not interested in ministerial berths.
“We have given our unconditional support. The National Conference is an ally of the UPA and hopes to remain an ally of the UPA,” Abdullah told a television channel.
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