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Text of Rashtrapati Bhavan communique - The Hindu

Press Communique ()
March 16, 1998

Title: Text of Rashtrapati Bhavan communique
Author: Press Communique
Publication: The Hindu
Date: March 16, 1998

The following is the text of the press communique issued by
Rashtrapati Bhavan on Sunday night.

In the identification and appointment of a Prime Minister, the
President exercises full discretion. He does, however, have
before him the well-established norm that the person selected to
be Prime Minister should be able to secure the confidence of the

When no party or pre-election alliance of parties is in a clear
majority, the head of State has, in India and elsewhere, given
the first opportunity to the leader of the party or combination
of parties that has won the largest number of seats, subject to
the Prime Minister so appointed obtaining majority support on the
floor of the House within a stipulated period of time. This
procedure is not, however, an all-time formula because situations
can arise when MPs not belonging to the single largest party or
combination can, as a collective entity, outnumber the ingle
largest' claimant.

The President's choice of a Prime Minister is pivoted on the
would-be Prime Minister's claims of commanding majority support.

The president has noted the following in regard to the 12th Lok

One, no party or pre-election alliance of parties has won the
number of seats required to give it a clear majority. in the

Two, the Bharatiya Janata Party has emerged as the single largest
party though short if a majority:

Three, the BJP-led pre-election combination of parties and
individuals is also the single largest of such formation in the

Four, Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee has been duly elected leader of
the Bharatiya Janata Party in Parliament.

Having regard to the foregoing, the President wrote to Shri
Vajpayee on 10.3.1998, asking if he was able and willing to form
a stable government which could secure the confidence of the

Shri Vajpayee called on the President at 8 p.m. on 10 March 1998
and submitted a letter indicating the support of 252 MPs. The
President asked Shri Vaipayee to furnish documents in support of
his claim from concerned political parties and individuals. Shri
Vaipayee was able to furnish a list of 24O mps on 12 March, 1998,
backed with letters of support. This figure 240 - was found to be
short of the half-way mark in the House of 539. The President
also noted that some of the BJP' sallies had stated that their
support would be "from outside."

While continuing his discussions with the BJP, the President
thereupon held consulations with leaders of the Congress and the
UF, including the general secretaries of the CPI(M) and CPI. He
also held discussions with former Prime Ministers, S/Shri
Vishwanath Pratap Singh, Chandra Shekhar and H. D. Deve Gowda.

The President had a telephonic talk with Shri N.Chandrababu
Naidu, chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, who informed the
President that the 12 Telugu Desam Party MPs in the 12th Lok
Sabha would remain neutral, as between the Congress and the BJP

The Congress and the UF leaders and the general secretaries of
the CPI(M) and CPI informed the President that they were in
contact with one another on the possibility of a Congress-UF
understanding on government formation. They however sought some
time for this process, especially as the Congress party in
Parliament was yet to elect its leader. The Congress delegation
led by Shri Sitaram Kesri informed the President that if,
meanwhile, the BJP and its allies came to the President with the
requisite numbers, the situation would change.

On 14.3.1998 afternoon, a letter was delivered, to the President
>from Ms. J. Jayalalitha, general secretary of the AIADMK,
pledging the total and unconditional support" of the AIADMK's 18
MPs to the BJP to form the new government. The President also
received letters from other Tamil Nadu parties and MPs who had
contested the elections as electoral allies of BJP.

On 15.3.1998 afternoon, the President noted the announcement of
the AIADMK general secretary that the AIADMK and its alliance
partners, the PMK and the Tamizhaga Rajiv Congress would
participate in a BJP-led government. A subsequent communication
addressed to the President from her confirmed this.

Smt. Sonia Gandhi who has taken over as the new president of the
Congress on March 14 met the President at 5 p.m. on 15.3.1998.
Talking to mediapersons shortly after her meeting with the
President, Smt. Gandhi said Congress was not staking a claim as
it did not have the numbers. This made it clear that a viable
alternative to a BJP-led government would not be obtainable now.

The number of MPs supporting the formation of a government by the
BJP now comes to 264. This number - 264 - remains short of the
halfway mark in the total House of 539. However, when seen in the
context of the TDP's decision as conveyed to the President by
Shri Chandrababu Naidu, to remain neutral, the number of 264 does
cross that mark.

The President has under the circumstances, been pleased to
appoint Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee as Prime Minister. He has
requested Shri. Vajpayee to advise him on the names of others to
be appointed as members of his Council of Ministers. The
President has also advised Shri. Vajpayee to secure a vote of
confidence on the floor of the House within ten days of his being
sworn in.

Shri. Vajpayee will be administered the oath of office and
secrecy at Rashtrapathi Bhavan on Thursday, 19 March 1998 in the

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