Socialist Chandra Shekhar, facing a nation bloodied by religious and ethnic strife, was named India's new prime minister Friday.

Chandra Shekhar, the dissident leader who helped topple Prime Minister V.P. Singh and his government on Wednesday, will be sworn in Saturday and will seek Parliament's endorsement by Nov. 20, President Ramaswamy Venkataraman announced.The president said he chose Chandra Shekhar because he "has the strength to form a viable government" with the support of the Congress Party of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Venkataraman said he offered three other parties the chance to form a government, but all refused.

"It will not be in the national interest to plunge the country into a general election at this time . . . and every effort should be made to provide the country with a reasonably stable government," said the statement.

Chandra Shekhar, 63, appearing composed as he spoke to reporters outside the presidential palace after a 35-minute meeting with the president.

The president "was satisfied I am able to form the government," he said, but he declined to discuss his Cabinet or his agenda.

Asked what his immediate programs would be, he said: "Priorities I shall discuss after tomorrow's swearing-in."

Later he told reporters he felt nothing special after being named prime minister-designate. "I am as normal as always," he said.

Singh resigned Wednesday after losing a parliamentary vote of confidence the same day.