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Samajwadi four eye Congress

Bhopal, Sept. 7: Four Samajwadi Party MLAs in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh on Saturday handed in their resignations as a possible first step towards crossing over to the Congress, with whom their party is trying to stitch up an alliance for the general election.

The state Congress unit has made no comment but the four — Arjun Palia, Vanshmani Prasad Verma, Vikram Singh Natiraja and K.K. Singh — who sent their resignations to Samajwadi chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and state unit head Narayan Tripathi indicated they would be knocking on the party’s door.

Palia alleged the Samajwadi leadership was neither consulting them nor giving them any major responsibilities.

He also admitted having met Congress general secretary V. Narayanswamy, who is in charge of Madhya Pradesh.

The 230-member state Assembly had eight Samajwadi members.

Senior state Congress leaders who declined to be named said a decision on the induction of the four would be taken by party president Sonia Gandhi.

The state unit is divided, with one section arguing that admitting them would jeopardise the seat-sharing talks with the Samajwadis.

Another section, however, feels these “local developments” will not affect national politics.

In the first round of talks, the two parties made some progress but there was disagreement over whether to limit the seat-sharing to Uttar Pradesh or to extend it to other states.

While the Congress wants to restrict the alliance to Uttar Pradesh for the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, the Samajwadis appear keen to also cover Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka where they have pockets of influence.

The Samajwadis are eyeing as many as 30 Assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh for the November polls, sources said.

The state Congress unit has been unwilling to concede even the eight that the Samajwadi Party won in the last polls. The exit of four MLAs has further shrunk the number, Congress leaders said.

There have been heated exchanges between Amar Singh and Digvijay Singh, general secretaries of the Samajwadi Party and the Congress, respectively, during the seat-sharing talks. Amar later played these down.

Asked if he wanted Digvijay out of the Congress team of negotiators, he said: “Digvijay Singh is carrying out his task honestly, as I am for my party…. He is also related to me from my wife’s side.”

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