Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who was the cynosure of all eyes at the United Progressive Alliance anniversary function last year, was conspicuous by his absence Wednesday night.
Instead, the pride of place was taken by BSP's Satish Chandra Mishra and Brajesh Pathak who did not attend the presentation of the 'Report to the People' but came in time for dinner.
No leader or MP from Samajwadi Party was present at the function.
Congress managers, however, downplayed the absence of Yadav with Union Minister Rajeev Shukla saying the absence of any party at the function does not mean that it was not supporting UPA.
Both the Bahujan Samaj Party leaders were seated at the same table as UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and UPA leaders like Sharad Pawar and outside supporters like Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo Lalu Prasad and Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan.
Amar Singh was seated on the same table but a Union minister said the seat was reserved for Defence Minister A K Antony who had to move to the table of the Prime Minister.
Sanjeev Kumar of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha also present.
Despite not being part of UPA, Lalu Prasad and Paswan were present on the dais.
Later asked whether Congress would include his party in UPA, Lalu Prasad remarked "whether it happens or not, we are going to support them."
The highlight of last year's function was the growing bonhomie between Congress and Samajwadi Party, with Mulayam Singh Yadav being a prominent face on the dais despite not being part of UPA.
Incidentally, UPA's second biggest constituent at that time, Trinamool Congress had sent only a junior minister Saugata Roy to attend the function.
Since then, Trinamool Congress has parted ways with UPA as also Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.
Pawan Kumar Bansal, who was the master of ceremonies last time, was replaced by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath. The former railway minister, who had to quit in the wake a bribery allegation against his nephew, was, however, present at the function.
Image: SP chief Mulayam Sngh Yadav
Photograph: Parivartan Sharma/Reuters