The seating arrangements at Sonia Gandhi's lunch today conferred VIP status on former chief minister Mayawati - she was placed at Mrs Gandhi's table. It's not often that Mayawati and her bete noire - Mulayam Singh Yadav - are seen within striking distance. But in a major coup, Mrs Gandhi's meal for the ruling coalition and its supporting partners saw an appearance from Mr Yadav too - he was at the Prime Minister's table.
The Congress has something to chew on, though - Sharad Pawar and his deputy Praful Patel, who recently threatened to quit the Congress-led UPA - were conspicuous by their absence.
Mr Yadav's 39-year-old son, Akhilesh, replaced Mayawati as chief minister in March after defeating her in record numbers in the state elections. Her BSP and his Samajawadi Party miss no opportunity to accuse each other of running UP, India's largest state, into the ground.
The lunch was hosted a day before the new vice-president of the country is elected by parliament. The Congress-led UPA is seeking a second consecutive term for Hamid Ansari.
But there's lots of other politicking at play. The pride of place given to Mayawati is a signal from the Congress to Mr Yadav that it has other friends it can count on, should he choose to oppose the coalition on key policy issues. He recently sided with the Left, sending a strong letter to the PM against increasing the amount of Foreign Direct Investment or FDI in retail - a reform that investors have been seeking desperately from the government.
Mayawati, who lost power in UP largely because of allegations of insuperable corruption, recently scored major points in the Supreme Court. The judges said the CBI had not been authorized to investigate a meteoric rise in her wealth during her years in office.The CBI then decided not to appeal against that decision. Critics of the Congress say this proves that the party uses the CBI to target opponents and to offer a reprieve to those whose support it needs.
Mrs Gandhi had hosted a similar lunch on July 18, a day ahead of the presidential poll. Pranab Mukherjee, former finance minister and Congress leader, won the election against PA Sangma to become India's 13th president.