In a first, SP gets UPA anniversary dinner invite
The UPA’s fourth anniversary celebration at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's residence on May 22 will acknowledge the Congress's changing equations with the Samajwadi Party.
Four years after SP leader Amar Singh was cold-shouldered by the Congress in the run-up to government formation at the Centre, MPs of Mulayam Singh Yadav's party have, for the first time, been invited alongwith those of their arch rival BSP to break bread with the coalition partners at the UPA's celebratory dinner on May 22. In 2004, Amar Singh had accompanied CPI(M) leader Harkishen Singh Surjeet to a dinner hosted by the Congress.
Clearly much has happened since then or for that matter since the SP refused to back a Sonia-led formation in 1999 after the fall of the A.B. Vajpayee government. Surjeet, often considered the master strategist in building an alliance against the BJP-NDA, lies in coma and the Congress and the SP worried at the BSP's domination in UP and threat to expand its base elsewhere have put their differences and bitterness behind them and begun talking again. "Yes, we have been invited…And there is no reason why we should not attend the dinner,'' said Mohan Singh, SP Lok Sabha member. The SP has around 55 MPs in the two Houses of Parliament.
Officially, the SP had withdrawn support to the UPA in early 2007 in retaliation against the Congress's action of pulling out support from the Mulayam government in UP ahead of assembly polls in the state. The SP remains part of the UNPA, which includes parties such as the TDP, AIADMK and INLD.
The BSP was invited to the third anniversary dinner as well. But at the behest of chief Mayawati, its MPs stayed away from it. They are likely to do the same this time too.