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Cong smells spoilers in heartland

New Delhi, March 14: A day after Mayavati ruled out an alliance with the Congress, the party high command has turned its scanner on two of its top Uttar Pradesh leaders.

State chief Jagadambika Pal and legislature party leader Pramod Tewari are suspected of creating hurdles in the way of an alliance with Mayavati’s Bahujan Samaj Party.

An influential section of the Congress leadership is particularly unhappy with Tewari’s “unwarranted” statement on Friday that ruled out withdrawing support from the Mulayam Singh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh.

Tewari’s assertion had come hours after senior leader Arjun Singh’s “considered” remarks in Lucknow that the Congress would review its support to the Samajwadi Party government.

“Was there any need for Tewari to contradict Arjun Singh’s remarks'” a central leader of the Congress asked.

Tewari, the legislature party leader for over a decade, is perceived to be pouring cold water on the high command’s measured political overtures to Mayavati.

Arjun’s threat to the Samajwadi was meant to send a signal to the reluctant BSP leader as Mayavati “certainly expects the Congress to dissociate itself from the Mulayam government”.

AICC circles believe Mayavati might not have stepped up her attack on the Congress at yesterday’s Lucknow rally if Tewari’s “provocative assertion” had not been made.

Critics of Tewari and Pal believe the duo might be acting at the behest of chief minister Mulayam Singh.

Mulayam Singh, like the BJP, is believed to be working overtime to forestall a Congress-BSP pre-poll alliance in the state. If it materialises, the Samajwadi chief stands to lose as his minority community votebank would be dented.

There is suspicion that Pal, who is eyeing the Domariyaganj parliamentary seat, may have already struck a deal with Mulayam Singh to get the Samajwadi’s covert support for his candidature.

Tewari has been content to continue as legislature party leader.

The Congress leadership, however, has still not given up hope as it awaits Mayavati’s next move after the scheduled Supreme Court hearing of the Taj heritage corridor case.

“Did she not announce on the floor of the Lok Sabha her party’s neutrality in the voting on the confidence motion of Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee in 1999' And overnight, did she not stun the BJP by voting against the confidence motion that brought down the government'” asked one of the leaders.

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