Ministers quit after cabinet meeting, PM to call on Patil

Last Updated: Mon, May 18, 2009 06:52 hrs

New Delhi: All union ministers Monday submitted their resignations to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who will give his own letter and that of his cabinet to President Pratibha Patil in the afternoon.

"It is protocol that the prime minister of the outgoing government resigns after election results," a prime ministerial aide said, adding that Manmohan Singh and the ministers would be asked to continue till the formation of the next government.

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Earlier, the outgoing cabinet met for the last time at the prime minister's 7 Race Course Road residence. The meeting was attended by, among others, Railway Minister and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad and Lok Janshakti Party's (LJP) Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, who lost his Lok Sabha election.

There is considerable speculation over Lalu Prasad's inclusion in the new cabinet.

"We are giving unconditional support to the government and we have said this in the cabinet meeting as well," said Lalu Prasad, whose relations with the Congress took a beating after tensions over seat sharing in Bihar.

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The President, who hosts a dinner for the outgoing cabinet Monday evening, is set to invite the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) to form the next government after the grouping got 262 Lok Sabha seats -- 10 short of the magic halfway mark of 272 seats needed for majority in the 545-member house.

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The Congress is planning to approach the president with letters of support from at least 20-30 more MPs that will obviate the need for a confidence vote in parliament, a party leader said.

A three-member Election Commission team headed by Navin Chawla will also formally submit the list of newly-elected Lok Sabha members to Patil.

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On Tuesday, the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) will meet to formally choose Manmohan Singh as its parliamentary party leader and Sonia Gandhi as it CPP chairperson.

According to an official in the Prime Minister's Office, the swearing in of the new cabinet is likely on May 20 or May 22 - the day he took oath five years ago. May 21 is out because it is the death anniversary of the late Rajiv Gandhi.

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