With Congress president Sonia Gandhi walking up to Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on the first day of the budget session in Parliament on Monday, and the latter standing up to thank her for her gesture, both parties signalled a new camaraderie after a bitter electoral battle in Uttar Pradesh.
A few hours later, chief minister-designate Akhilesh Yadav quelled speculation of a mid-term poll, prompted by the SP’s resounding victory and the Congress party’s poor show in UP and other states.
Though both prime protagonists — the Congress and the SP — ruled out chances of an early poll, others are not giving up, at least not yet.
While Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Sukhbir Singh Badal and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar openly lobbied for a snap poll, ally Mamata Banerjee played it cool. She decided against attending the swearing-in ceremony of Parakash Singh Badal in Punjab but deputed her emissaries to attend the event.
The invitations to Banerjee from Badal and Akhilesh had triggered speculation about the development being a precursor to the formation of a non-Congress, non-BJP grouping of chief ministers heading regional parties.
But Akhilesh said there was no move as of now to form such a front and described his invitation to the Trinamool Congress chief and Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalailthaa as part of an established convention.
Doing his bit to neutralise talk of a mid-term poll, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh counted the numbers. “I am confident we have all the numbers that are needed,” he said in Parliament.
The Congress has maintained that it was ready to walk the extra mile to coordinate with its allies as it is not in a position to take its partners for granted. And the Trinamool asserted itself by saying it was against a cut in fertiliser subsidy, formation of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre and hiking of prices of petroleum products.
Singh will be hosting a dinner for the UPA allies at his residence on Tuesday but both the supporting parties – the SP and the BSP -- have not been invited.
During the day, many Congress ministers and senior leaders were seen chatting up Yadav Senior in a bid to ensure that the budget session goes off smoothly.
Some reports suggested that RJD chief Lalu Prasad was playing the role of a mediator between the Congress and the SP. Prasad’s RJD and the Lok Janshakti Party headed by Ram Vilas Paswan have also ruled out the possibility of mid-term elections.