New Delhi, March 20: Sonia Gandhi today walked up to Mulayam Singh Yadav in the Lok Sabha and was learnt to have apologised on behalf of minister Beni Prasad Verma, in a reach out that underlined the Congress’s dependence on the heartland party after the exit of the DMK.
Sonia got up from her seat, walked towards Mulayam and talked to him with folded hands, immediately after the Lok Sabha was adjourned for the second time just after noon over Verma’s remarks.
Sources said the Congress president expressed apologies for steel minister Verma’s remark against Mulayam. She urged the Samajwadi Party chief to give up the demand for the minister’s resignation. She also pointed out that Verma’s remarks were his own and not of the Congress party.
Sonia’s gesture appeared to have mollified the Samajwadi boss but later in the afternoon the party went back to its demand after Verma met the Prime Minister and came out only to express regret and not apologise.
“If my remarks have hurt anybody then I express regret for it,” Verma told reporters after meeting the Prime Minister.
Last week, Verma had alleged that Mulayam “patronised terrorists” after the Samajwadi Party held a Muslim convention in Lucknow. He stuck to his remark when the matter was raised in the Lok Sabha on Monday.
Verma’s refusal to apologise enraged the Samajwadis, who stormed the Well in the Rajya Sabha demanding the dismissal of the minister. The Lok Sabha had been adjourned for the day by the time Verma’s regret came.
Sonia reached out to Mulayam after the Samajwadi boss was backed by the leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha. Raising the issue at noon, Sushma Swaraj expressed solidarity with Mulayam and said the steel minister’s charge against the Samajwadi chief was a breach of his privilege.
“We may have ideological differences. He may support the government. But if someone levels baseless charges against an honourable member of this House then it is a serious matter…The government should respond…The minister should be removed immediately,” Sushma said, bringing a smile to Mulayam’s face.
The Samajwadis appeared to have given up on the Verma issue after raising it on Monday.