UPA-SP Coordination Panel constituted

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New Delhi, Aug 23 (UNI) The Congress today officially announced the constitution of the Coordination Panel of the UPA-Samajwadi Party, whose crucial support helped the Manmohan Singh government win the July 22 trust vote which was necessitated by the withdrawal of support by the Left Parties.

AICC Spokesman Manish Tewari told mediapersons here that the Panel would be headed by Congress President and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

The constitution of the UPA-SP panel has set at rest speculation that the SP, which has about 35 members in the 545-member Lok Sabha, would not join the Manmohan Singh government for the time being.

A replica of the erstwhile UPA-Left Coordination Committee, the new panel would have six members, four from the Congress and the two from the SP.

Though it is nomenclatured as UPA-SP Coordination panel, there are no members from the UPA other than the Congress.

Besides Ms Gandhi, the Congress leaders in the panel are Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Union External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Defence Minister A K Antony.

The SP already announced that its nominees in the panel would be former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and SP supremo Mulayam Singh and Party General Secretary Amar Singh.

The panel would help to ensure smooth coordination between the Congress and the SP, which are likely to an forge alliance in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

The panel is being constituted to keep the SP involved in the affairs of the government while remaining outside it.

Asked if the idea of the SP joining the Government has been dropped, a senior SP leader said,'' That can come even later. The first priority is to have some mechanism to put across our views and suggestions on the policies and programmes of the Government, and to formulate a joint strategy for the coming Lok Sabha elections.'' The ruling alliance had a similar coordination panel with the Left before they parted company over the nuclear deal in July last..

The SP had played a very crucial role in the survival of the UPA Government during the voting on the Confidence Motion in Parliament on July 22.

After the Manmohan Singh Government survived, speculation was rife that the SP would soon join the Government, though party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had been emphatically underlining that his party had not supported the Congress out of any greed for power.

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