PM’s dinner: Mulayam shares high table with Sonia
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Tuesday left nobody in doubt that his party is now clearly on the side of the ruling UPA, giving the Congress a much needed boost ahead of the presidential election in July. HT reports. Sounding upbeatdelhi Updated: May 23, 2012 11:36 IST
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Tuesday left nobody in doubt that his party is now clearly on the UPA side, giving the Congress a much needed boost ahead of the presidential election in July.
The occasion was the third anniversary celebrations of the ruling alliance where Mulayam first shared the dais with UPA allies who released the report on the coalition’s achievements. He was later seated at the high table with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi at a dinner hosted by the Prime Minister.
This was the first time since UPA-2 came to power that Mulayam — whose party extends outside support to the government — was seated on the dais along with UPA constituents.
Asked about his relations with the UPA, Mulayam said, “They have given us respect.”Rahul and Mulayam exchanged pleasantries at the dinner table but before that the Congress general secretary had underscored his party’s objective of building its base in the key state where the SP is now in power.
With the SP chief being given importance at the high-profile event, the absence of his archrival Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati was expected.
The SP's increasing proximity with the Congress is being interpreted in political circles as a signal to the difficult UPA partner, the Trinamool Congress. The signal is that the SP can step in to bail out the alliance should Trinamool boss Mamata Banerjee become a stumbling block.
Along with Mulayam, DMK leader TR Baalu, RJD chief Lalu Prasad, Trinamool leader Saugata Roy and Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah were also seated at Sonia Gandhi's table.
Prime Minister Manmhan Singh had the company of his senior cabinet colleagues Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram, Sharad Pawar, AK Antony and Ajit Singh.
Taking a few questions from waiting journalists, the PM rejected the charge that his government was suffering from a policy paralysis. "Perceptions can be misplaced, but the reality speaks for itself," he said.
The topic of the presidential election figured in the UPA leaders' interaction with the media but the PM refused to respond to the question about his being able to spare finance minister Pranab Mukherjee from his current responsibilities.