New Delhi: A sumptuous menu awaited guests at the dinner hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to mark third anniversary of United Progressive Alliance-II (UPA-II) government even as key outside supporters including Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad were given pride of place on the main dais along with leaders of parties constituting the ruling alliance.
The move, significant in view of the impending presidential polls, did earn Congress some goodwill.
"We support the government. They have honoured us, it is a good thing," Mulayam Singh told IANS after the dinner.
His Samajwadi Party and Lalu Prasad`s Rashtriya Janata Dal are outside supporters of UPA. Though Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati was also invited for the dinner, she did not come.
Mulayam Singh and Lalu Prasad were seated with Congress president Sonia Gandhi at the dinner table, which also had key ally leaders including Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, DMK leader T.R. Baalu, Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy and Congress MP Karan Singh.
Gandhi`s son and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi was seated next to her at the dining table.
At a nearby dinner table were Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Ajit Singh, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and Defence Minister A. K. Antony.
The evening was marked by informal interaction by ministers and senior leaders with mediapersons.
The prime minister treated his guests to a lavish menu that included recipes from different parts of the country.
For vegetarians, there was "dhania paneer korma", "kadhai paneer", "baghare baingan", "kathal masala", "avial", "drumstick sambhar", "beans gajar matar", "teh biryani", and "keoti dal".
The non-vegetarian spread included "jhinga Kasundi", "gosht burrah kabab", "fish malabari", "chicken chettinad", and "dum aloo Kashmiri."
While the deserts included fresh fruits, assorted "kulfi", "coconut payasam", "hot jalebi" and "pardah rabri", those looking for snacks had option of "gol gappa", "pao bhajji", "aloo tikki" and "chat-papadi."
Many Congress MPs came forward to greet the Congress president and prime minister.
Among Congress MPs present was Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who resigned as a party spokesperson last month over a controversy surrounding a CD.
Lok Janshakti Party president Ramvilas Paswan was also present.