The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This PagePrint This Page
Mulayam, Madam inch nearer

New Delhi, Sept. 23: The decision will be tough — for both Sonia Gandhi and Mulayam Singh Yadav. But political compulsions and a common adversary have almost tilted the balance.

With an eye on Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, fresh efforts are on to bring about a rapprochement between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party. Sources said a former Governor is playing peacemaker, shuttling between the two leaders.

If things go according to the script, Uttar Pradesh could witness another toppling drama. The Congress has indicated it is game to back Mulayam in case the Samajwadi Party chief succeeds in weaning away a section of Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs.

The precondition is Mulayam should succeed in splitting the BSP before getting the Congress’ letter of support. A source close to Sonia said Mulayam has been assured of Congress support of 25 MLAs.

In exchange, Mulayam would back the Congress in the Gujarat Assembly polls and oppose Jayalalithaa, Sharad Pawar and the BJP when they bring up the “foreigner” issue.

A majority of Congress leaders are, however, still uncomfortable about aligning with “unpredictable” Mulayam.

They recall how the Samajwadi chief had scuttled Sonia’s bid to become Prime Minister in 1999.

The Congress had agreed to topple the Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime after a verbal understanding among Jayalalithaa, Mulayam, Laloo Prasad Yadav and the Left parties that an alternative government headed by the Congress would stake claim.

But at the last minute, Mulayam had a rethink. It forced fresh elections that saw the Congress get its worst-ever drubbing in Lok Sabha polls.

The pro-alliance lobby within the Congress advocates a “forgive and forget” approach. These leaders say that in politics, nothing should be treated as static.

After all, they point out, the BJP has little or nothing in common with allies like the DMK, the Telugu Desam Party, the BSP and the breakaway Janata Dal groups. Sources say both the Congress and the Samajwadi have realised that the BJP-BSP alliance is much more formidable than they had thought it would be and is likely to continue during and after the next round of general elections.

Chief minister Mayavati’s decision not to issue fresh notifications in the Babri Masjid demolition case and her bid to take over the land allotted to the Indira Gandhi Pratishthan in Lucknow have also given fresh openings to Sonia and Mulayam.

Congress circles were today elated over Mulayam’s support to Sonia’s campaign seeking restoration of the land allotted to the Indira trust. In a representation to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Mulayam said: “Indira Gandhi made the supreme sacrifice upholding unity and integrity of the nation. Destruction of a memorial in the name of such an illustrious person is a handiwork of reactionary and communal forces.”

A Congress Working Committee member said: “Such a strong posture can really help us come closer.”

Email This PagePrint This Page