May 19: The 261-member UPA is set to easily cross the majority mark of 272 with outside secular parties falling over themselves to offer support.
Mayavati today ditched Prakash Karat and announced unconditional and outside support to the government, as did the Janata Dal (Secular) and the RJD. The Samajwadi Party did not clarify if its backing came with strings attached.
A nuanced difference in these parties equations with the Congress was evident, though. The BSP, Samajwadis and the RJD gave their letters of support to President Pratibha Patil but the JD(S) handed its letter to Sonia Gandhi herself.
Former allies Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose post-poll overtures the Congress has ignored, and Lalu Prasad, bitter at alleged humiliation by some Congress leaders, did not seek time from Sonia.
Mayavatis move is almost a slap in the face of CPM general secretary Karat, who had gone to her residence in Delhi days before last Julys trust vote to strike a surprise alliance. The CPM today virtually admitted the third front had been a failure.
Mayavati claimed Manmohan Singh had phoned her yesterday (she had rung him on Sunday), described her as his younger sister and urged her to take a positive attitude towards government formation.
Amar Singh, who handed the Samajwadi letter to Patil, said Manmohan had twice asked him for support, a claim Congress and PMO sources would not confirm or deny.
Congress sources suggested Mayavati and Mulayam were hoping to be let off in assets cases. The CBIs an autonomous body and we will do nothing to interfere, a Congress source said.
Mayavatis 21 MPs, together with Mulayams 23, the RJDs four and the three JD(S) members, would raise the pro-government votes to 312.
Congress sources said the party was talking to Ajit Singh, who has five MPs. He may be asked to merge his Rashtriya Lok Dal with the Congress if he wants ministry berths.