New Delhi: Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav was the star of UPA-II's third anniversary dinner on Tuesday. While the key ally Trinamool Congress seems to be drifting away from the UPA, Mulayam was seen sharing the stage and then the high table with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi at the dinner, an honour reserved only for close allies. The big question that arises now is if the Congress will dump Mamata Banerjee for Mulayam.
Leading Economist Lord Meghnad Desai says the move might help the government implement some key decisions. "If Mulayam Singh is inducted in UPA II and Mamata is sent off, the government can implement some policies," Desai said speaking to IBN18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai.
Senior Journalist Ashok Malik said the worry about upcoming presidential elections might be forcing the Congress to get closer to Mulayam.
"More than the government's reform agenda, I would read Mulayam coming closer to the Congress as a reflection of the party's worry about the forthcoming presidential election. The UPA needs more numbers to push their presidential candidate through and Mulayam can help the government do that," said Malik.
"Pranab will be President, Mulayam will be Home Minister and Chidambaram will be Finance Minister," suggested Desai.
Malik, however, differed with the idea and said the Congress will never trust Mulayam for the home minister job. "If an election takes place in 2013, Mamata will give the Congress at least four to five seats in West Bengal. But if Mulayam has his way, he will wipe out the Congress from Uttar Pradesh," he said.
Meanwhile, Desai said that he sees Mulayam's presence at the top as a master stroke of Sonia Gandhi.