New Delhi, March 18: The heartland twins are set to leverage their clout to “force” the UPA to concede hard political demands if the DMK pulls out of the ruling coalition, sources said.
The Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party offer outside support to the government.
Indications from DMK leaders are that this time their “threat” was for real and might be executed in a single stroke instead of playing out the ritual of first asking ministers to resign and then giving issue-based support before biting the bullet.
Samajwadi leaders said if the support of the party’s 22 MPs becomes critical, the first issue the government would be confronted with was reservation in jobs and education for Muslims.
“The Uttar Pradesh Assembly will shortly pass a resolution to enshrine our commitment. The resolution will be sent to Parliament for the UPA to amend the Constitution and legislate a provision,” said Ramgopal Yadav, the Samajwadi Rajya Sabha MP and general secretary.
The BSP would use the prospective privilege to insist on pushing through a bill for a promotion quota for Dalits and tribals. The bill has been passed in the Rajya Sabha but awaits the Lok Sabha nod.
The Samajwadi Party had opposed the bill — a circumstance that makes the government’s task unenviable given it will find it impossible to please one Uttar Pradesh twin without antagonising the other.
Yadav said amending the Constitution was imperative since it did not provide for religion-based reservation. When the Andhra government had brought the provision through an ordinance, it was struck down by the high court.
“The ball will be in the Centre’s court. The resolution will become a test of the Congress’s sincerity towards implementing the Sachar committee’s recommendations,” a Samajwadi source said.
The source recalled that the minority panel had stressed how under-represented Muslims were in education and government-sector employment.
Samajwadi sources said the reservation issue was again foregrounded by their chief Mulayam Singh Yadav after he sensed a churning in the party’s Muslim support recently.
The killing of Kunda DSP Zia-ul Haq, allegedly by henchmen of former Uttar Pradesh minister Raja Bhaiyya, had set off a “negative” reaction among Muslims. This was aggravated by the presence of a Yadav among the alleged assassins — Ghulam Yadav, who headed the Kunda municipal corporation. The murder was supposed to be a reprisal for the killing of a village headman — also a Yadav — called Nanhe Yadav. The episode eventually took on the character of a Hindu-Muslim conflict.
Mulayam has lately been courting two Muslim clerics: Arshad Madani of the Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind and Maulana Touqeer Raza of Bareilly. Raza had floated a party called the Ittehad-e-Millat Council for the 2012 Assembly elections. But Mulayam recently lost the backing of Syed Ahmed Bukhari of Delhi’s Jama Masjid.
“The elections are approaching and we have a huge stake in forming the next government. The reservation issue is a good plank to retrieve whatever Muslim support we have lost,” a Samajwadi source said.
Just as the Samajwadi needs to consolidate its core Muslim base, the BSP is looking to regroup Dalits through the promotion quota issue.
For the Congress and the BJP, endorsing the promotion quota implies a corresponding loss in upper-caste following. In the backlash in Uttar Pradesh after the bill went through the Rajya Sabha, upper-caste state government employees had laid a siege on the offices of the Congress and the BJP in Lucknow.