PM, Amar break bread; Sonia makes silent exit
A dinner hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to mark the completion of four years of his government turned out to be an occasion for the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) constituents to reiterate their bonding and break grounds for new alignments. Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Amar Singh – whose uninvited entry into the dinner party four years ago to mark the formation of the UPA — hogged the limelight after his late entry at the dinner. Amar Singh sat next to Sonia Gandhi’s table, but both did not exchange a word and the Congress president left soon after. The PM – on whose table Amar Singh’s seat was reserved – walked up to the table chosen by the SP leader and sat next to him. “In politics new alignments are always possible,” the PM said, in response to a question.
Describing the PM as an “esteemed colleague,” Amar Singh said his presence at the dinner was “nothing new” and did not alter his relations with the constituents of the UNPA. Amar Singh said he would cooperate with the government on issues, including the nuclear deal, “if new facts are placed before us.” Earlier, talking to CNN-IBN, Amar Singh said, “It would not be prudent to say that we are friends with the Congress (but) it will not be proper to say that we are enemies. Sonia Gandhi shared the table with CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat, his wife Brinda, CPI general secretary AB Bardhan and RJD chief Lalu Prasad while the PM had CPM leader Sitaram Yechury, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and CPI secretary D Raja for company. The PM said his government had achieved more than what was thought possible four years ago. He counted “accountable governance,” as the most important achievement of his government. Asked if he would rate his government on a scale of 10 – he had given himself six on the first anniversary – the PM said: “Let’s now wait for the final exam,” apparently referring to the elections. The PM said he had not given up hopes on the nuclear deal and was trying to evolve a consensus.