Sonia meets Somnath on his birthday

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New Delhi, Jul 25 (UNI) Congress President Sonia Gandhi today went to Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee's official residence and greeted him on his 79th birthday.

''Nothing political should be read into the meeting,'' Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed told reporters.

'I also went. Other MPs also went to wish him.... We all have great respect for Mr Chatterjee,'' Mr Ahmed said.

Asked why they had not gone to his residence in the past four years to wish him on his previous birthdays, the Congress spokesman said Mr Chatterjee today happended to be in Delhi, and the media had also publicised about his 79th birthday.

''Since the trust vote took place 2-3 days ago, most of the MPs were around,'' he said.

Asked whether any CPI (M) Polit Bureau member was present, Mr Ahmed said he did not recognise anybody.

But, he said, CPI (M) General Secretary Prakash Karat was not there.

''I recognise Mr Karat,'' he added, smilingly.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had called on Mr Chatterjee at his official residence, and they were together without any aide for nearly 20 minutes.

Mr Chatterjee, who has been expelled from the CPI (M) for refusing to resign as Speaker ahead of the July 22 trust vote, has already found many supporters.

The Congress has already indicated that it was in favour of Mr Chatterjee continuing as Speaker as he was without party affiliation.

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