Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's invite to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati to a dinner he is hosting to commemorate one year of the UPA-II government has created a piquant situation for the Bahujan Samaj Party. For, it is gearing itself to stage a State-wide public protest (janhit andolan) the same day, Saturday, against the economic policies of the Congress-led government at the Centre. The protest programme was finalised about a month ago by the Chief Minister herself.

Dr. Singh has invited all UPA allies and those who have extended outside support to his government. Ms. Mayawati and Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh fall in the second category. The SP chief, who is in Kolkata in connection with the national executive meet of his party, has expressed his inability to attend the dinner.

There is no official word till Friday on whether or not the Chief Minister will attend or send a representative to the dinner, the invitation was received a couple of days ago. Officials in the Chief Minister's office here remain tight-lipped, as were BSP sources.

As the invite clearly mentions one year of the UPA-II government, the BSP ranks see the dinner party as a political gathering of its allies and supporters. As it is not an official function, Ms. Mayawati is under no obligation to attend, say sources.

Dr. Singh's invitation to Ms. Mayawati assumes significance in the backdrop of the BSP's support to the UPA government to defeat the BJP-sponsored cut motion in the Lok Sabha last month. Ms. Mayawati then said her party wanted to thwart communal forces coming to power at the Centre.

Members of the SP staged a walkout when the motion was put to vote.

Ms. Mayawati's support notwithstanding, both the BSP and the Congress were quick to dispel suggestions of any bonhomie between the parties. For, each wants to score points over the other ahead of the 2012 Assembly elections.

Ms. Mayawati blamed the UPA government for the State's backwardness and even saw in it a Congress-designed conspiracy.

During a visit to her constituency, Rae Bareli, on May 17, UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi said the Mayawati government was not putting Central funds to judicious. The very next day, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi predicted the defeat of the BSP at the hands of his party in 2012. Addressing a rally in Mirzapur district, he rejected the possibility of an understanding between the two parties.

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