Dr Manmohan Singh to be PM; markets on a roll

MUMBAI: Two days of uncertainty came to an end this evening after it became clear that the "father of the Indian reform process" Dr Manmohan Singh would be India's next Prime Minister.

With the issuance of a letter from the President Dr APJ Kalam to Dr Singh inviting him to form the next government brought the curtain down on what has been a period of great drama as well.

The markets also reacted positively to the developments. That the outgoing BJP government has been stands totally defanged as it were with Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi having withdrawn from the prime ministerial race is another positive development as well. Without any real divisive agenda to plonk their collective hats on, at least for the present, the country can hopefully look forward to issue based opposition from the BJP instead of the vicious campaigns that would have come into play if the "foreign origins issue" had been allowed to take centre stage.

The stock market rally that began yesterday continued today to take the Sensex up over 5,000-mark today, narrowing its Mondays losses.

After yesterday's eight per cent upward move, the markets continued to gain even today. With 183 points up at one time, the market finally ended with a gain of 129.08 points, at 5,006.10.

As far as the broadcasting sector is concerned, news that the Dravida Munnetra Kazhaghan has agreed to join the Congress-led government at the Centre raises the possibility that party MP and CEO of Sun Network Dayanidhi Maran might have a position in the new cabinet that is expected to be announced over the next three days.

It was Maran, son of late Union minister Murasoli Maran and grand-nephew of DMK president M Karunanidhi, who made the announcement that the DMK was joining the government after Ms Gandhi met Karunanidhi as part of her efforts to get the backing of partners and allies for a new leader to head the Congress-led coalition.

The big question of course is whether Maran ( 37), an economics graduate and number 2 man in Sun after CMD Kalanidhi Maran, could now be in the running for the information & broadcasting ministry portfolio.

However, still believes that the frontrunner for I&B ministership remains former incumbent Jaipal Reddy (whose Broadcasting Bill is still gathering dust). What would go against Maran is that since he is heading a broadcast company, he would be seen as having too direct an interest in the matters pertaining to the I&B ministry.

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