An elaborate spread — to tickle all tastebuds — is how Congress president Sonia Gandhi brought together the wildly diverse UPA bunch on Monday, a day before the vice-presidential polls.
With that show of strength at the lunch meeting hosted by her, it is almost certain that Congress'
VP choice Hamid Ansari will get a second term in office.
Arch rivals SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati sat remarkably close to each other, although they did not exchange jalebis or pleasantries. Mayawati shared the table with Sonia. Mulayam sat next to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
And while chholar dal (Bengal-style chana dal) and machher jhol (fish curry) couldn't woo Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee to the event, many of her party leaders, including TMC's parliamentary party leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay and union minister CM Jatua, were present, indicating that the party would fall in line and vote for Ansari on Tuesday.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar and union minister Praful Patel did not attend as they were not in Delhi, but senior leaders Tariq Anwar and DP Tripathi and Pawar's daughter Supriya Sule attended.
Rahul Gandhi had lunch with RLD chief Ajit Singh, union ministers Sushil Kumar Shinde, AK Antony and Veerappa Moily and senior Congress leader Karan Singh.
Far from the neza kebabs, kathal biryani and lemon peanut rice, the rival camp of BJP-led NDA and Jayalalithaa's AIADMK tried to curry up support for their candidate Jaswant Singh. Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik-led BJD, which supported PA Sangma for president, has decided to abstain in Tuesday's polls.
A senior UPA minister said Ansari would get the support of more than 500 MPs, including those from the Left, out of 790. Only 787 will vote as Pranab Mukherjee, Vijay Bahuguna, who resigned from the Lok
Sabha after taking over as Uttarakhand chief minister, and BJP member from Bellary J Shanta who faces a court case, would not be able to do so. The result will be out Tuesday evening.
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