No strain in Congress-Trinamool ties: Bansal

New Delhi: Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal today dismissed speculations of strains in Congress ties with Mamata Banerjee and downplayed reports over the possibility of increased role for Samajwadi Party in UPA.

"Mamata ji with us. She is fully with us. There is no question of any adjustment (problem)," Bansal said when asked whether SP president Mulayam Singh Yadav sharing the dais with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi at a UPA function yesterday is an indication of the two parties coming closer in wake of strains in Congress ties with Trinamool Congress.

Insisting that nothing more should be read into Mualayam`s sitting with Gandhi during the release of UPA-II`s report card last night, Bansal said, "He (Yadav) is a senior leader. We asked him to take a seat at a proper place, which he accepted. That is all."

The Union Minister also said had BSP chief Mayawati come to attend the function, she would also have been offered a seat at the dais. "She did not come. Had she come, she would been given a seat there itself," he said when asked whether Mayawati would also been seated on the dais with Sonia Gandhi had the former UP chief minister attended the function.

Pointed out that it was the same Mulayam, whose party`s manifesto was torn away by Rahul Gandhi at a function during the UP assembly elections in past, the Congress leader said it should be treated as a "virtue of democracy" that opponents come together.

Bansal at the same time chose to stress that both SP and RJD are supporting the UPA government from outside and they have been giving "help" whenever required by the UPA-II government in the last three years since it came to power in 2009.

On whether SP could be part of a broader UPA in 2014, a senior Congress leader on condition of anonymity said there was no such thought behind Yadav sharing the dais with Gandhi yesterday but "in politics, you cannot say what will happen or not happen tomorrow".

The indications of increasing bonhomie between SP and Congress were available on Monday as well, when Samajwadi MP Naresh Agrawal in Rajya Sabha demanded that Lokpal Bill be referred to a select committee as the government found it tough to build a political consensus on some key provisions.

Both the Left and the NDA criticised the move saying the government should have directly done it without using the shoulder of a friendly party. Some Left leaders, who do not want to be named, admitted the two parties are inching closer.

Bansal, however, found nothing wrong in Agrawal`s move saying the proposal brought by the SP member was "not legally wrong".

Speculation of Congress and SP joining hands after the UP elections were in the air for a long time in the wake of Trinamool Congress opposition to a number of key decisions including FDI in multi-brand retail and NCTC in past.

After the UPA function yesterday, Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhary denied any message was sought to be given to anybody with Yadav sitting on the podium but said, "In democracy anything is possible."

She was asked whether the increased bonhomie between Congress and SP means the UPA alliance could be broadened during 2014 Lok Sabha polls with inclusion of parties like SP and RJD.

Union Minister R P N Singh said, "It was not about alliance but the fundamental politics of Congress has been to fight communalism. Wherever required, we have joined hands to strengthen secularism."

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