The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Double A surprise and a question
Amar, Ajit: Govt suspense

New Delhi, May 16: Among the new power elite that converged around Sonia Gandhi’s dinner table, two faces and one question stood out: Amar Singh and Ajit Singh and “who invited them'”

The two leaders of the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal had turned up along with Harkishen Singh Surjeet, setting off a buzz around the table and far beyond that the CPM veteran is stepping up pressure on the Congress to induct the two Uttar Pradesh partners into the secular coalition.

Apparently, both leaders came armed with letters extending “unconditional” support to a Sonia-led government, but neither the Congress nor the two parties officially confirmed this.

Till a few minutes before the get-together, most Congress leaders were certain that the Samajwadi Party — which had rebuffed Congress attempts for a pre-poll tie-up in Uttar Pradesh but is said to be keen on joining the government now — were on the list of invitees.

When Amar and Ajit turned up in Surjeet’s car, theories flew around that the duo could not have got a formal invitation, mandatory for taking a vehicle inside the high-security 10 Janpath.

“Nobody attends uninvited,” Amar said after the dinner. He told a TV channel later that he was not invited but went at Surjeet’s request.

Manmohan Singh, asked whether the two parties would join the government, said: “We would like all constituents to join the government but this decision will be taken separately.”

Laloo Prasad Yadav, whose antipathy towards the Samajwadis is well known, added: “I don’t know who invited Amar Singh. But I know that his party would be with the Left parties.”

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