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Ministers skip, Baalu stands in

delhi Updated: May 23, 2011 02:11 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times
Ministers skip

If the UPA-2 alliance was worried about the 2G spectrum scam and other scandals, the ruling coalition didn’t show it at the function to release the government’s report on its achievements and at the dinner hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday.

If the absence of the six DMK ministers seemed a dampener, it was made up by DMK’s representative TR Baalu, who sat next to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on the stage when the PM released the report card and later at the dinner table. He was seen talking to Sonia as well.

Others at the high table where Gandhi sat, were allies such as National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and the Rashtriya Janata Dal's Lalu Prasad, who is backing the government from the outside. Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi and minority front leader Badruddin Ajmal, and union ministers Pranab Mukherjee and AK Antony shared the same table.

At the high table where the PM and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi sat, the allies — 13 of which attended the event — were among others represented by NCP leader Sharad Pawar and Trinamool’s Sudip Bandhopadhyay.

Samajwadi Party’s Mohan Singh, Muslim League’s E Ahamed, who is also a Union minister, and Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah also shared the table with the PM and Rahul.

Over dinner, Rahul inquired about the UP situation from the SP leader who reportedly told him, "Whatever you have noticed is the reality".

The BSP, which like the SP, is supporting the UPA from the outside, did not send any representative.

Later, Baalu told HT that his presence was meant to convey the message that the Congress-DMK ties were intact. "I am here, what does it show?" he remarked when asked about the absence of DMK ministers from the event. The DMK is the third largest constituent in the UPA coalition with 18 MPs.