New Delhi, Oct. 2: The Samajwadi Party is disinclined yet to accept Mamata Banerjee’s invitation to be part of her proposed anti-retail FDI rally in Lucknow.
The Bengal chief minister had yesterday urged Samajwadi chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh to join her protest against the UPA government, adding that she might bring a no-confidence motion against the Centre.
Today, Samajwadi sources said that even a “token” presence of their leaders at Mamata’s rally might create an impression that Mulayam wanted to topple the Manmohan Singh government and “foster” his prime ministerial ambitions.
“The invite is fraught with danger because Mamataji linked her opposition to retail FDI with a threat to bring down the government. Such a project will be perceived as a way of helping the BJP and the NDA. We can’t ignore the presence of the NDA convener (Sharad Yadav) at her Jantar Mantar meeting. Was Sharadji acting on his own or on the BJP’s prompting? People will ask, ‘has Mamata decided to be part of the NDA again?’ Such doubts and speculation do not suit us politically,” an aide to Mulayam said.
The final decision would be taken by Mulayam. Unless Mulayam changes his mind at the last minute, the aide said, chances are remote that he and Akhilesh would attend the rally.
Although October 17 was initially mooted as the date for the Lucknow rally, the Trinamul Congress has not yet formally announced a date.
However, the Samajwadis sustained its tightrope walk on retail FDI: speaking against it but taking an ambiguous stand on its support to the UPA.
In Lucknow, Akhilesh asked journalists: “The Centre says foreign investments in retail will help the farmers. Is that why everyone is opposing it?”
On Mamata’s invitation, he said Mulayam would take the call.
Mulayam’s aide underscored that the Samajwadis would not aid or abet an endeavour to bring down a “secular” dispensation and clear the way for the potential comeback of the BJP — a “BJP possibly helmed by Narendra Modi”.
The associate suggested that the Samajwadi Party might not even field candidates in the Gujarat elections for fear of “dividing the minority votes and helping Modi”.
“This is the extent to which we are being cautious because the Muslims of Uttar Pradesh are closely watching our statements and movements. For the Muslims, the issue is not FDI in retail but the apprehension that the BJP might return to power. Modi is a bigger threat,” the aide said.
“Here, in Uttar Pradesh, Muslims might have voted for us in the Assembly polls. But they feel secure only with a Congress-led government at the Centre,” another Samajwadi source said.
If the Samajwadis are concerned about continuing their support to the UPA, it is for a different reason. Sources said if the Congress presented a populist budget next year and rolled the food security bill, the Samajwadis could be in trouble in its backyard. “Before 2009, when we bailed out the Congress on the Indo-US nuclear treaty, the Congress used the opportunity to announce a loan waiver for farmers. This created such a momentum in Uttar Pradesh that my family members ditched the Samajwadi and voted the Congress (in the Lok Sabha polls),” an Akhilesh Yadav aide said.
The idea of a third front would come into play only after the next Lok Sabha polls and it will critically depend on whether the BJP or the Congress emerged as the single largest party, the source added. “If it is the BJP that is better placed to back a federal coalition, there’s no way the Samajwadi can be part of it,” he said.