Gandhi May Reject Post
Sonia Gandhi, who led her Congress party to a surprise victory in India’s elections, may not accept the prime minister’s post, NDTV 24×7 and other Indian television channels reported, citing officials from Congress and other parties.
Gandhi, widow and daughter-in-law of assassinated Indian premiers, was invited by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to discuss forming the new government to replace Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. After a meeting with Kalam this morning, she was asked to show letters of support from parties backing her, Gandhi said.
The 57-year-old Gandhi, whose Italian origin has been the point of criticism by the Bharatiya Janata Party she ousted from power, will address party workers at 5:30 p.m. in New Delhi, NDTV said. Gandhi may name Manmohan Singh, a former finance minister, as her choice for prime minister, it said, citing party officials it did not identify. Singh accompanied Gandhi to the Kalam meeting.
While stocks rose on reports of Singh’s likely elevation, any announcement from Gandhi that she is not a candidate for prime minister is an unexpected development for India’s oldest party, which as recently as last night said a Congress government led by Gandhi would take office this week. Gandhi herself said last week that the party’s parliamentary leader is also traditionally prime minister. On Saturday, the party named her its parliamentary chief.
The Times of India is more adamant in their reportage:Sonia’s refusal is market’s gain
Indian shares registered the steepest gain ever Monday as Congress party president Sonia Gandhi declined to become the prime minister and former finance minister Manmohan Singh emerging as a frontrunner for the post.
Even as the leaders of Congress party and its allies began persuading Gandhi to reconsider her decision, the sensitive index (Sensex) of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) shot up by over 100 points in a matter of few minutes.
At 3:30 p.m. , the bellwether index was ruling at 4,898.96 points, up 393.80 points or 8.74 per cent over previous day’s close.
It was the biggest gain ever on a single day in the 129-year history of BSE.
The markets were elated by the prospect of Manmohan Singh, considered the father of India ‘s economic liberalisation reform programme, becoming the next prime minister.
One would think they’d have sorted this out before the election.