The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rush to encash secular cheque

New Delhi, April 27: With 48 constituencies in Uttar Pradesh — more than half of its 80 seats — voting on May 5 and 10, the Samajwadi Party is flaunting the certificate of secularism handed by Harkishen Singh Surjeet and affirming its will to prop up a secular alternative at the Centre to the 16 per cent Muslim electorate.

Party general secretary Amar Singh today assailed the BJP for trying to confuse Muslim voters with overtures for a post-poll truck. “The BJP is an expert in spreading rumours and the statements are a conspiracy against the SP,” he said.

“Our party is committed to work towards providing a secular alternative at the Centre and is in regular touch with (CPM dealmaker) Harkishen Singh Surjeet,” he said, to questions about the possibility of the Samajwadi backing the NDA after the elections.

While the BJP is trying its best to prevent tactical voting by Muslims to shore up its sinking fortunes in the heartland, the Samajwadi brass went on an overdrive to stall a three-way split in the minority votes between itself, the Congress and Mayavati’s Bahujan Samaj Party.

Amar Singh and Samajwadi chief Mulayam Singh Yadav turned their guns on the BJP and the Congress.

“SP will not support BJP. It will prevent BJP from forming government at all costs…” Mulayam Singh told a TV channel.

In a news conference at Lucknow, Amar Singh said Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s statement that the Samajwadi and the BJP were ideologically close was aimed at confusing Muslim voters.

“If Vajpayee did not find any ideological differences with the SP, he can join our party after explaining to the country the Best Bakery matter, the Gujarat massacre and other contentious issues and tender an apology to the country,” he said.

Mulayam Singh also tried to torpedo Vajpayee’s view, saying his party’s policies were the same as in the past and that there had been no change.

Addressing a meeting at Tauns in the Sarsaul Assembly constituency, the Uttar Pradesh chief minister assailed a section of the media for giving “wrong” exit poll predictions and the Congress for “misleading” people by making “wrong statements” against his party at a rally near Kanpur.

Amar Singh also sniped at the Congress’ appeal to his party to withdraw candidates in Madhya Pradesh to avoid a division in the secular vote. “The condition of SP in Madhya Pradesh is the same as that of the Congress in Uttar Pradesh and if the latter can do the same here, we will oblige them in Madhya Pradesh.”

Mulayam Singh said his party would secure more than the targeted 60 Lok Sabha seats in the state. “SP would win 30 seats alone from the first phase of elections in which 32 constituencies in the state went to polls yesterday,” he said.

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