NEW DELHI (Agencies) - Indias Congress party, which surged back to power following month-long elections, was Wednesday invited to form the next government. Manmohan Singh was appointed Indias prime minister for a second consecutive term, for which he will be sworn in on May 22, after the UPA coalition staked its claim to form the government with the backing of 322 MPs, PTI reported. Congress, which campaigned on a pro-poor platform, was asked to form the government after PM Manmohan Singh and party Chairwoman Sonia Gandhi met President Pratibha Patil at the British colonial-era presidential palace. The President has invited me to form the new government, Singh said after their meeting, adding that his new administration would be sworn in Friday. Sonias Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) grabbed 262 seats in 543-seat Lok Sabha and with the support of allies, the coalitions tally is well past the half-way mark needed to form a government. With support extended by three other regional parties, the UPAs legislative strength stood at 322, Singh told reporters. The 76-year-old Singh earlier this week was nominated to hold the premiers post for a second five-year term. Apparently in view of the comfortable numbers the coalition has in the parliament, the President has not asked the prime minister to prove his strength in the house. I have pleasure to appoint you the prime minister and request you to advise me on the names of the others to be appointed to the council of ministers. I propose to administer the oath of office and secrecy to you on Friday, 22nd May 2009 at the Rashtrapati Bhawan at a mutually convenient time, President Pratibha Patil said in her letter handed over to Singh when he called on her along with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. Earlier in the day, the Congress party and its allies haggled over cabinet positions with Singh in a position to dictate terms after his partys electoral triumph. Leaders of the coalitions members made their pitches for cabinet berths at a meeting at Gandhis residence. Congress, which won 206 of the 543 seats in parliament - its strongest showing since 1991 - will retain the portfolios for finance, defence, foreign affairs and internal security, a senior party figure told AFP. The victorious alliances other key members, the Trinamool Congress and a regional Tamil party, the DMK, are expected to hold out for cabinet positions for railways, food and telecommunications. These are infrastructure ministries with the potential of catering to audiences back home and therefore ideal for regional parties, said political analyst Rasheed Kidwai. Congress spokesman Janardhan Dwivedi stressed allocating cabinet portfolios was the prerogative of the prime minister. Singh and Sonia would finalise the names at one-to-one discussions in consultations with allies, he said. The Congress leader said Singh would make his choices carefully, based on performance records and the ability of candidates to deliver. Outgoing foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee is tipped to be the new finance minister, while Palaniappan Chidambaram is expected to retain his top post at the Home Ministry. Media reports said Kamal Nath could be moved from trade to the Foreign Ministry. Dwivedi said Singh had stressed that providing a strong and stable government was his first priority at the same time as pushing forward pro-poor schemes launched in his previous tenure.