Manmohan Singh was on Wednesday appointed the prime minister for a second consecutive term, for which he will be sworn in on May 22, after the United Progressive Alliance coalition staked its claim to form the government with the backing of 322 Members of Parliament.
Apparently in view of the comfortable numbers the coalition has in the 543-member Lok Sabha, the President has not asked the prime minister to prove his strength in the House.
"I have the pleasure to appoint you the prime minister and request you to advise me on the names of the others to be appointed to the council of ministers. I propose to administer the oath of office and secrecy to you on Friday, 22nd May, 2009 at the Rashtrapati Bhawan at a mutually convenient time," President Pratibha Patil said in her letter handed over to Dr Singh, when he called on her along with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
Gandhi and Dr Singh called on the President after a meeting of the United Progressive Alliance, attended only by leaders of the Congress and its pre-poll allies, at the 10 Janpath residence of the party president, who was re-elected coalition chairperson.
She told reporters outside Rashtrapati Bhawan that as chairperson of the Parliamentary Party in Parliament, she has handed over a letter to the President stating that "the leader of the Parliamentary Party in Parliament to head the government is Dr Manmohan Singh.
The prime minister said the coalition has 274 members including four independents who are part of the Congress-led pre-poll alliance.
"We have the support of the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal whose number adds up to another 48. All this adds up to 322," he said.
Asked about the details of the composition of the ministry, Dr Singh said, "We will talk in greater detail later."