RJD chief Lalu Prasad and SP leader Amar Singh said certain Congress leaders were making derogatory remarks against the allies. Prasad said remaining in the Cabinet was not a "big thing" while SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said his party was ready to sit in the opposition if UPA does not want its support.
Prasad raised the issue at the Cabinet meeting in New Delhi, lodging protest with the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The outgoing Union Railway Minister said he had made his displeasure known to Congress President Sonia Gandhi too.
"I have lodged protest in the Cabinet meeting today. I told the Prime Minister that small-time Congress leaders are making derogatory remarks and this is not good for the health of the government," a visibly agitated Prasad told mediapersons later without naming anyone.
During the Cabinet meeting, Prasad said certain Congress leaders had been humiliating him and leaders of some other allies during television debates, according to one of the ministers present.
Prasad sought to know the reasons for the "humiliation" by Congress leaders but the Prime Minister preferred not to join the issue. Amar Singh, who addressed a press conference separately, identified these Congress leaders as Kamal Nath, Digvijay Singh and Rajiv Shukla, saying "I would like to tell" them that "the SP is not seeking any favour or cabinet berth."
He said certain Congress leaders were behaving like "landlords" whereas they were merely "tenants."
Appreciative of the Prime Minister, Amar Singh said Manmohan Singh had called him up and expressed his anxiety over comments made by certain Congress leaders about SP's inclusion in the new government.
Amar reminded the Congress leadership about the "unconditional" support SP had extended after the Left parties withdrew support to the UPA over the nuclear deal.
"We are there for secular forces, and would be ready to extend support to the UPA," he said, adding SP would send the letter of support to the President whenever required.
"We were attacked by a section of Congress leaders who alleged that we are helping an industrial group in return of support. The matter should be probed to find out what we demanded and what was given to us in return," Singh said adding, "We are not provoked by Congress leaders' comments against SP."