Mulayam stars at UPA II fete

Mulayam stars at UPA II fete

Mamata, Mayawati give it a miss

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee was conspicuous by her absence at the third anniversary celebrations of the United Progressive Alliance II government here on Tuesday.

UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh release a report of United Progressive Alliance titled 'Report to the People 2011-2012', on its Third anniversary in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI Samajwadi Party’s Mulayam Singh Yadav, on the other hand, was the cynosure of all eyes at the gala event, held at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s residence Tuesday evening.

The West Bengal chief minister, whose party,the second largest constituent of the UPA, has a tumultuous relationship with the government, was represented by a junior minister – Saugata Roy – and other MPs. The regional party’s only Cabinet minister Mukul Roy, who had rushed to Andhra Pradesh due to a train accident, walked in late. Leader of another UPA ally — M Karunanidhi of DMK — too was absent because of ill health. Senior party MP T R Baalu represented the former Tamil Nadu chief minister, as in the past.

Neither Mayawati, head of the Bahujan Samaj Party which supports UPA from outside, nor any of her MPs attended the dinner. Significantly, leaders like Mulayam and RJD’s Lalu Prasad, who provide outside support to the UPA, were seated on the podium. At the dinner high table, these two leaders sat next to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son and party General Secretary Rahul Gandhi.

NCP leader Sharad Pawar and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah of National Conference were the other notable leaders who attended the event.

That the Congress was wooing Mulayam was evident as the SP supremo was received at the venue and led to the podium by four senior ministers of the party. Rahul was seen in an animated discussion with him.

When a journalist informally asked Rahul about Mulayam coming close to Congress, he quipped: “I want Congress to return to power in UP.”

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