The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cong jitters on BJP shadow

New Delhi, Aug. 27: The Congress will tomorrow discuss the implications of helping Mulayam Singh Yadav form a government in Uttar Pradesh after the collapse of the Mayavati-led BSP-BJP regime.

Party chief Sonia Gandhi today convened an emergency meeting of the working committee to discuss the options before the Congress just as state unit leaders told governor Vishnu Kant Shastri that they would support the Samajwadi Party.

The meeting will also discuss strategy for the coming Assembly elections and the situation in Maharashtra following Monday’s Mumbai blasts.

The party leadership may have shed its initial reluctance to state in writing to Shastri that it would support Mulayam, but many issues still remain unresolved.

Sources said the Congress would have to deal with persistent rumours that the Samajwadi chief might arrive at a tacit understanding with the BJP.

Party leaders are not happy at the prospect of a Congress-supported Mulayam government going soft on the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government over the Ram temple issue and the Babri Masjid demolition case against L.K. Advani and other senior BJP leaders.

There were signs today that the Congress might want assurances from Mulayam regarding this.

Asked if the party would set the Samajwadi chief a deadline to issue a fresh notification to reinstate criminal conspiracy charges against Advani and others, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singvi said the question was “hypothetical” at this stage.

A section in the state Congress feels the party should join a Mulayam-led government, rather than just extend outside support. This section says Congress should share power like it is doing in Bihar, where it is part of the Rabri Devi government.

As soon as state Congress chief Jagadambika Pal and legislature party leader Pramod Tewari conveyed the party’s stand to the governor, some party MLAs rushed to Delhi this evening to persuade Sonia that they should be allowed to join the government.

The central leadership will also consider Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi’s argument that the Congress should ally with Mayavati. Pro-BSP leaders argue that the Dalit party’s support will prove valuable as its support base extends to Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan, all of whom face elections shortly.

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