New parliamentary elections should be called in the world's largest democracy following the resignation of Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar's government, political leaders said Thursday.

They said President Ramaswamy Venkataraman should order fresh elections following the resignation Wednesday of the 4-month-old Shekhar coalition rather than ask former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to try to form a new government.The president was expected to announce his decision on elections Thursday.

Ghandhi's Congress Party is the largest single bloc in the 545-seat lower house of Parliament with 194 members. Its withdrawal of support for Shekhar's minority government Wednesday triggered the political crisis.

Shekhar, in submitting his resignation, recommended the dissolution of the lower house of Parliament and fresh elections. His plea was supported by major opposition parties.

Gandhi's Congress Party, which had provided crucial support to Shekhar's minority government until this week, also said it would like to go to the people for a fresh mandate.

"We favor fresh elections," said Gandhi, who was defeated and lost power in a 1989 parliamentary poll. He, his grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, and his mother, Indira Gandhi, have ruled India for about 36 years since India gained independence from Britain in 1947.

The president should heed the advice of the prime minister and order new elections, said L.K. Advani, a lawmaker of the right-wing Hindu fundamentalist Bharatiya Janata Party.