Congress denies receiving Samajwadi Party wish-list
The Congress denied on Thursday receiving any "wish-list" from the Samajwadi Party as a quid pro quo to prop up Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government if and when the Left withdraws support over the India-US nuclear deal.
Congress leaders said they had read about the "wish-list" in the media but they were not aware of it.
"(Congress president) Sonia Gandhi and the core group that includes Manmohan Singh, (Defence Minister) AK Antony and (External Affairs Minister) Pranab Mukherjee are among those giving the final touch to the political understanding between the Samajwadi Party and the ruling coalition," said a cabinet minister who did not want to be identified by name.
A media report Thursday said the Samajwadi Party wanted to see the back of Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Petroleum Minister Murli Deora among others in order to extend support to the Congress-led government.
"It is the prime Minister's prerogative to decide who serves in his cabinet. That is the traditional constitutional provision and it will remain like that," Congress spokesman Manish Tewari told IANS.
Party MP Jayanti Natarajan added, "It is the political dialogue that is taking place. It is about political give and take. Nothing else is involved."
The minister was more emphatic, "There will not be any ministerial changes in the government for the time being."
Samajwadi Party sources indicated that the party leadership was not looking at immediate political gains or any sop from the ruling coalition.
"Our focus is clear. We would like to keep the communal forces out and consolidate our party's position in Uttar Pradesh. We hope the political understanding between our party and the UPA should serve that purpose."
The Samajwadi Party with its 39 MPs in the Lok Sabha is expected to announce its decision to back the government, which faces loss of support from the Left over the nuclear deal.