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Since 1st March, 1999
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Amar delivers size sermon to Salman

New Delhi, Aug. 6: The blow-hot, blow-cold Congress-Samajwadi Party relations hit a new low today, with senior leaders exchanging angry words over the size of their respective parties.

Speaking in Lucknow on Sunday, Congress leader Salman Khursheed had dubbed the Samajwadi a “cheenti (ant)” and his own party a “hathi (elephant)”. Responding to this, Samajwadi general secretary Amar Singh today said the former Uttar Pradesh Congress chief had turned “paagal (insane)”.

Khursheed, however, has denied making such a statement.

“The elephant may be big in size, but what happens if a small ant enters its ear' The elephant will go berserk,” Singh said soon after a meeting of the Samajwadi’s women’s wing.

“He (Khursheed) has gone insane. I don’t even want to take his name. He does not have knowledge of biology. He does not know that if an ant enters the ear of an elephant, it will go mad and roll around,” the general secretary said.

Asked to respond, Khursheed said: “My only reaction is: be careful of a berserk elephant.”

The Congress leader had talks with Sonia Gandhi this evening, but it is not known what was discussed.

Singh said he had sought an appointment with the Congress chief, adding that “this matter will also figure in the meeting”.

Describing Khursheed as Sonia’s enemy, Singh said there were BJP agents in the Congress. “Sonia should recognise their true colours,” he said. The general secretary said the Congress leader’s remarks were so “third rate and dirty” that he did not think it fit to comment.

Asked if Khursheed’s statement could jeopardise a possible Samajwadi-Congress alliance to take on the BJP, Singh said everything depended on Sonia. “It depends on how seriously Sonia takes it,” he said.

If the Congress chief wanted to act against Khursheed, she was free to do so, Singh said. “The Congress has to do something about it,” he said.

Elsewhere, the Samajwadi women’s wing chief, Ranjana Vajpayee, said the party was not against reserving seats for women in Parliament and state legislatures, as had been made out in the media. She said the Samajwadi had given more women representation than some other parties.

Ranjana said her party was opposed to the women’s reservation bill in its present form and wanted other parties to accept Mulayam Singh Yadav’s proposal that they reserve a certain number of seats for women while distributing election tickets. Singh voiced similar sentiments.

Ranjana went on to describe Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayavati as anti-women and anti-Dalit.

A resolution adopted at the meeting of the Samajwadi women’s wing said a memorandum would be submitted to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam soon, demanding reservation for women “in practicable proportion”.

Mulayam, who joined the news conference in its closing stages, said the party had not taken a stand on deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani’s suggestion of synchronising Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. “We will take a decision at the party’s national executive meeting,” he said.

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