The Samajwadi Party (SP) was conspicuous by its absence at a function to mark the fourth anniversary of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) II on Wednesday.
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was present at the event which showcased the report card of the Congress-led alliance government a year ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. The SP and BSP support the alliance government.
During the day, the SP declared that it would not attend the UPA dinner, though party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav was present in the capital. BSP leader Mayawati, who was not present at the function, had sent her confidant Satish Mishra to the dinner, which took place at the Race Course residence of the prime minister.
Many leaders of the UPA, including Sharad Pawar of the Nationalist Congress Party, Lalu Prasad of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Ajit Singh of the Rashtriya Lok Dal, Farooq Abdullah of National Conference (NC), Ram Vilas Paswan of the Lok Janshakti Party, attended the function.
All these leaders, besides being present on the dais, had dinner with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
The UPA bash also featured Congress chief ministers Siddaramaiah (Karnataka), Prithviraj Chavan (Maharashtra), Bhupinder Singh Hooda (Haryana), Ashok Gehlot (Rajasthan), Sheila Dikshit (Delhi) and Tarun Gogoi (Assam) and NC’s Omar Abdullah (Jammu and Kashmir).
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Reddy (Congress) was not present.
Sonia Gandhi backed the prime minister during her speech. She told journalists: “Stories of the Congress not backing the prime minister are invented by the media. We have always been behind the prime minister. I am very satisfied with the government’s performance.”
Rahul Gandhi, too, made it clear that Singh would remain the prime minister till 2014. “I have made it clear that I will work for the party,” he remarked.
“There are no differences between the party and the government.” Effusive in her praise for the prime minister, Sonia Gandhi said Singh had been carrying out his responsibilities during the last nine years with “great dignity” despite “unrelenting hostility” from the opposition. “We respect him and we all stand by him,” she said amid applause.
She also remarked that Singh had been facing unrelenting attack and abuse from the opposition. She then lashed out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“I cannot hide my deep sense of disappointment at the way the opposition has prevented Parliament from functioning,” she added.
-Appropriate moment to celebrate and reflect on what we sought to do in past 9 yrs
-UPA’s focus was never in doubt; it never deviated from its policies
-Disappointed that crucial legislations not passed due to principal opposition’s obstructionist approach
- Prime Minister subjected to unrelenting hostility and abuse by Oppn; we respect and stand by him
-Economic slowdown is temporary, economic situation turning around
-If UPA returns to power next year, it will try to achieve 8 per cent growth as projected in the 12th Plan document
-Government committed to food security, food subsidy
-Root cause of perceived problems in coal block, spectrum allocation scams