Hectic parleys on as allies eye cabinet berths

July 30th, 2008 - 10:01 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 30 (IANS) Speculations were rife in the national capital that the Samajwadi Party, the ruling Congress’ latest ally, has demanded key portfolios in the cabinet in lieu of its support to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the crucial July 22 trust vote in the Lok Sabha. Congress leaders admitted that the Samajwadi Party, whose 33 MPs supported the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in the trust vote, has demanded key ministries, including those dealing with petroleum and power.

However, there has been no official confirmation.

“Joining the government is the Samajwadi Party’s prerogative,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters here.

Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, however, told mediapersons that he was not a contender for a ministerial seat even if his party decided to join the UPA government. At thesame time, he made it clear that his party has not sought to join and neither has theCongress invited it.

Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh also evaded questions from the media. “We have not given any proposal nor have we received any,” he told reporters in Kolkata.

Reacting to media reports that he wanted to be a central minister, Amar Singh said: “Ask Manmohan Singh, (Congress president) Sonia Gandhi and (Samajwadi Party leader) Mulayam Singh Yadav. It is not such a thing as can be had through application. I have not applied for a ministership. Newspapers have made me a minister.”

Congress leaders pointed out that the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), a UPA ally which was initially hesitant to extend its support in the trust vote, also should be given representation in the council of ministers.

Wednesday witnessed hectic parleys at the government level.

Senior Congress leaders had an hour-long meeting with Gandhi in the morning at her 10 Janpath residence and another with Manmohan Singh at his 7 Race Course Road residence in the afternoon.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi, who attended both meetings, was closeted with Home Minister Shivraj Patil in the evening for another meeting.

The prime minister, who is leaving for Colombo Friday to participate in the SAARC summit, also held a 45-minute meeting with President Pratibha Patil in the afternoon.

“The prime minister briefed the president about his ensuing visit to Colombo for the SAARC summit. They discussed internal security issues and other issues of national and international importance,” a Rashtrapati Bhavan official said.

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