The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Arjun drops heartland pullout hints
- Rebuilding in mind, Sonia hangs Mulayam fate in Mayavati balance

Lucknow, March 12: Senior Congress leader Arjun Singh today hinted his party might pull out of Mulayam Singh Yadav’s government in Uttar Pradesh.

The chief minister had badmouthed the Congress at a rally in Sitapur yesterday, calling it “a party of confused leaders”. He had targeted the Congress at earlier rallies also and is believed to have decided to field candidates against it.

“Contradictions between the party supporting the Mulayam Singh Yadav government on one hand and facing Samajwadi Party candidates in the Lok Sabha elections on the other cannot continue for long.

“There are contradictions… which will be resolved. This can happen as the poll dates near,” Arjun said.

But the former Union minister wouldn’t come clean on whether this meant ties would be snapped. “Wait for the proper time,” he said, adding the Congress would take an aggressive posture soon.

Sources said the Congress is likely to wait till tomorrow, the day Mayavati holds her mega parda faas (ripping the mask) rally in Lucknow. If she chooses to sup with Sonia Gandhi for the elections, the Congress might dump Mulayam Singh. Else, it is expected to carry on.

The Congress’ withdrawal of support is, however, unlikely to spark any crisis for Mulayam Singh. His government enjoys a comfortable majority in the Assembly minus the Congress.

Arjun today refused to commit himself on the fate of the talks with Mayavati’s Bahujan Samaj Party.

“Talks are still on but it is difficult to say if we could pin our hopes on this.”

One of the problems in the talks had been the Congress support to Mulayam Singh. Although the party said it would withdraw support once the deal was finalised, Mayavati virtually pulled out, dubbing the Congress a “manuwadi” party.

The Congress has, so far, refrained from targeting her in the hope that the pact might eventually come through. But today it joined hands with the Republican Party of India and the National Loktantrik Congress.

The pacts with the smaller parties — on the eve of Mayavati’s rally — indicate the Congress is not expecting her to play ball. At a recent rally in Rohtak, Mayavati had said a lot of things would become clear after the rally. No BSP leader was willing to comment what she was planning to “expose”.

Even as the heartland picture remained hazy, the Congress paraded its new partners, including Malik Jisan, the RPI general secretary, and S.R. Darapuri, a former inspector-general of police.

Although the Congress leaders kept mum, Darapuri, who joined the RPI recently, spewed venom at Mayavati.

“The Dalits are feeling betrayed by the BSP’s irrational ways,” he said, adding there was need for the Congress to tie up with grassroots parties.

State Congress chief Jagdambika Pal said efforts were on to win the support of at least six Muslim organisations and also the Apna Dal.

“These alliances with smaller parties will help the Congress regain some backward votes,” he said.

Fernandes’ ‘friend’

George Fernandes said Mulayam Singh “is a friend” though he is not a part of the NDA.

“He is someone who wants the country to have a stable government. It was Mulayam who saved the country’s prestige when Sonia Gandhi went and claimed before the President that she had enough members to form the government,” the defence minister said. “Otherwise, she would have hijacked the country and the government.”

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