UPA II anniversary bash: A near-solo Cong affair

UPA II anniversary bash: A near-solo Cong affair

Sonia Gandhi with Manmohan Singh. DH Photo

Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi will release a ‘Report to the People’ to mark the anniversary of the UPA II government, detailing its achievements, but the celebration is expected to be largely a Congress affair.

The prime minister has invited the Central ministers, top leaders of all the constituents of the UPA as well as of the parties which have been supporting the government from outside. But indications are that several top leaders of the allies are unlikely to come for the celebrations. Agriculture Minister and NCP leader Sharad Pawar is on a tour abroad. So is National Conference leader and Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK supremo M Karunanidhi too is unlikely to fly all the way from Chennai to Delhi for the celebration. The NCP is likely to be represented by Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel and the DMK by T R Baalu and other leaders. Though Trinamool Congress leader and Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee was initially reluctant to come to Delhi due to her busy campaign schedule for the municipal polls in West Bengal, she changed her mind after a call from the PM himself and will attend the dinner.

Sources said both Singh and Sonia had insisted on Banerjee’s presence in the celebrations on Saturday, ostensibly to ensure that the event did not turn out to be “a show of disunity” within the UPA. The Congress and Trinamool Congress had failed to strike a seat-sharing deal for the civic polls in West Bengal. The differences between Banerjee’s party and the Congress had earlier come to the fore on several other issues as well.

The new outside ‘honeymooners’, the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, who bailed out the government during the cut motions in Parliament, have also been invited for dinner. After receiving an invitation from the PM for the dinner on Saturday, SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, however, wrote back that he would not be able to take part in the celebrations due to his party’s national executive meet underway in Kolkata. It is not clear if RJD chief Lalu Prasad would attend the dinner.

There is uncertainty on the BSP supremo and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s participation, too, as the Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi has stepped up the Congress’ campaign against her party in UP.

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