India's communist parties meet today (Sunday) to decide whether to join a coalition led by Sonia Gandhi, whose Congress Party won a stunning victory in national elections.
The communists have already said they will support Mrs. Gandhi, but have not said whether they will join a coalition government, or support it from the outside.
The Congress Party will have the largest bloc of votes in the new 545-member parliament, but lacks a majority and needs other parties to form a ruling coalition.
Italian-born Mrs. Gandhi was elected Saturday as the parliamentary leader of the Congress Party, placing her one step closer to becoming prime minister. The 57-year old Mrs. Gandhi could form a new government within days.
Mrs. Gandhi's Congress party scored an unexpected victory in national elections in the world's largest democracy, ousting the Hindu nationalist coalition led by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. who governed India for almost six years.
If she becomes prime minister, Mrs. Gandhi will be the first Christian, the first foreign-born citizen, and the second woman to lead the mainly Hindu but constitutionally secular India.
She also will be the fourth member of India's Nehru-Gandhi dynasty to head the government, following in the footsteps of her husband, Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1991, and her mother-in-law, Indira Gandhi, who was slain in 1984.
After her re-election as leader of the Congress Party, Mrs. Gandhi pledged to work closely with other parties to give India a strong government. She said Indian voters have rejected what she called the right-wing sectarianism of the Bharatiya Janata Party, adding that her election had proven that the soul of the Indian nation is, in her words, "inclusive, secular and united. "
Information for this story is provided by Reuters and AP.