India's president was expected to name Gandhi as prime minister on Tuesday in a meeting at the presidential palace earlier in the day.

Normally, when the leader of the biggest vote-getting bloc in Parliament is invited to the presidential palace, that person then walks away with the title of prime minister.

But Gandhi left the ornate, colonial-era building empty handed, with the question of who will lead the world's largest democracy left hanging.

Her alliance with communist parties and their influence on economic policy was the cause of concern for market analysts only one day earlier.

But Gandhi said she would meet President APJ Abd al-Kalam again on Wednesday to try to prove that she can maintain a stable government.

Media speculation

Meanwhile, the India media peppered the public with reports on Tuesday claiming that sources from Gandhi's Congress party said she was backing away from being prime minister.

Reports suggested Gandhi was instead forwarding the names of Manmohan Singh and Pranab Kumar Mukerjee, both of whom were Congress finance ministers.

Adding credence to the rumours was Singh accompanying Gandhi to the presidential palace.

Oscar Fernandes, a Congress party general secretary, insisted there was "nothing to sort out" and denied the media speculation she was hesitant to become prime minister.

"The president asked for letters of support and she will hand them in tomorrow," he said.