With the Congress and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) having stitched up a poll pact for the upcoming assembly elections in UP, the ruling UPA has increased its Lok Sabha strength by five members.
RLD chief Ajit Singh pledged support of his party's five Lok Sabha members to the ruling UPA at a meeting with Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Saturday.
Singh — who is expected to take oath as cabinet minister shortly — will also meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The UPA presently is slightly above the half-way mark of 272 in the 543-member Lok Sabha. The addition of five RLD members can prove critical in these politically turbulent times when the Trinamool Congress — the biggest alliance partner-has been holding a virtual pullout threat on issues such as fuel hike and the proposed FDI in multi-brand retail.
The deal was hammered out at Singh's meeting with Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Friday.
The poll pact will help bolster party Rahul's campaign against land acquisition at Bhatta Parsaul in western Uttar Pradesh, Congress circles feel.
Following the poll pact with the RLD, the Congress is now pitching itself for the role of a "king-maker" in the run-up to the crucial Uttar Pradesh elections. In the event of a hung assembly, the party will have a critical role in the government formation.
And in case it extends support to either the BSP or the SP, the party, as quid pro quo, would seek reciprocal gesture at the Centre.