New Delhi, Dec. 19: Rajya Sabha MP and former Maharashtra Governor P.C. Alexander was the surprise of the evening at a dinner hosted by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for NDA allies to mark the end of the winter session.
BJP sources said Alexander, who showed up though he is not a member of the ruling coalition, was invited by NDA convener and defence minister George Fernandes.
The Trinamul Congress was present in full strength minus party president Mamata Banerjee, who is convalescing in a Calcutta hospital.
Although the Telugu Desam Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party are not NDA members, their representatives also turned up for the dinner. The BSP was represented by Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayavati.
The presence of the Desam and the BSP indicated that both are keen to cement their alliances with the BJP in their regions. The Desam faces an election in Andhra Pradesh along with the Lok Sabha elections of 2004 and the question of whether its alliance with the BJP would hold till then is important.
For the BJP, this session was remarkably free of controversies sparked by NDA constituents, barring some discordant notes sounded on disinvestment by the Shiv Sena and the Samata Party.