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Mulayam readies for early elections

Agra, March 13: Mulayam Singh Yadav today put his Samajwadi Party in election mode, kicking off a three-day convention in this historic city with a scathing attack on the Centre and a call to party workers to prepare for “sangharsh”.

The Samajwadi chief said his party would don the mantle of an effective Opposition as the Congress had failed in this role and also blasted regional parties for propping up the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government against the “interest of the country”.

Sources said Mulayam’s one-hour speech, virtually an election address, was in anticipation of early Lok Sabha polls and shaped by his failure to topple the Mayavati government in Uttar Pradesh as well as talks of the BSP-BJP alliance being extended to the 2004 general elections.

The Samajwadi chief, who inaugurated the convention by hoisting the party flag and saluting it, appealed to the cadre to be patient. The Samajwadi was a “principled party”, he claimed. “We will never form a government with the mafia, dacoits and criminals.”

Without mentioning Mayavati’s name, Mulayam said if a powerful leader like Indira Gandhi could have been ousted, the BSP chief could also be easily dislodged.

But the former defence minister indicated that he was no longer only interested in cobbling together the numbers to oust Mayavati. His party, he said, was ready to launch a decisive movement for a broader national interest.

He criticised the National Democratic Alliance government for its divestment policy, failure to tackle terrorism and the lack of nerve to stand up against America and back Iraq, which, he said, was “a friend of India”.

Attacking the budget, Mulayam said it was meant for the 2 per cent rich and those who spoke English. While cars, air-conditioners and foreign liquor had been made cheaper, diesel, cooking gas and petrol were now dearer, he said and promised education for all, free medicines to poor and free power to poor farmers if his party is voted to power.

The attack on the Congress was limited to what he called its inability to perform the role of the largest Opposition party.

“The Congress has not been able to play its role as the largest Opposition party and that is one reason why we called this special convention in this historic city, which has the Taj Mahal…. It is a symbol of change,” he said.

A political resolution placed before the convention said the Samajwadi was ready to take the support of all those who wanted change.

“It was expected that the Congress being the main Opposition party will lead the forces of change in the country. But the Congress party is unable to lead a joint national campaign against the present regime. On the other hand, the NDA leadership has given lollipops to regional parties. Some of the political formation is happy in their own states enjoying power, while some are enjoying power at the Centre as small partners.

“In this situation, the Samajwadi Party cannot be silent spectator. We resolve to fight for the change and launch a decisive movement, the resolution said. It will be adopted tomorrow after amendments, if any.

The document said the party would take the support of all those forces that are ready to launch and participate in the movement to serve the broader national interest and added that the Samajwadi was ready to sacrifice its own interest in the “interest of the country”.

A resolution on the economy will be adopted tomorrow.

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