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Mulayam sets off pullout buzz
No-trust whets SP appetite

New Delhi, Dec. 13: Mulayam Singh Yadav has called an emergent meeting of Samajwadi Party MPs on Monday morning, triggering speculation he might dump the UPA.

But even if this costs the ruling alliance its majority, there seems no immediate threat to the government even with a no-confidence vote brewing over the planned division of Andhra Pradesh.

The Samajwadis said they would endorse the no-trust motion that the Telugu Desam and the Congress’s “rebel” Seemandhra MPs have threatened. The authors of the move, however, are yet to secure the support of 53 members, which is necessary for the motion to be placed before the House for debate and voting.

Mulayam backs the Congress-led coalition from the outside, and his 22 Lok Sabha and eight Rajya Sabha MPs have often bailed the government out of trouble in Parliament. A Samajwadi pullout would reduce the UPA’s strength to 255, well below the majority mark of 270 in the current House.

But the UPA can shore up its support with the help of the 19 Janata Dal (United) members and perhaps coax its now-on, now-off ally, the DMK, into providing a cushion with its 18 members.

Even if it fails to do so, the BJP has said it will walk out before any voting on the no-trust motion — provided the motion is admitted and comes to a vote.

“I received a note signed by Netaji (Mulayam) just before I left home for the weekend,” a Samajwadi Rajya Sabha member said.

“It simply said that there would be an emergent meeting. But there’s a buzz in our party about withdrawing support to the central government.”

In the Lok Sabha today, the Samajwadis’ stand on the no-trust motion reflected their belligerence towards the UPA. In the Rajya Sabha, too, Samajwadi members repeatedly stalled a discussion on the Lokpal bill after it was brought back to the House in an amended form.

“We have decided to back the no-confidence motion because we are against the division of states,” the Samajwadis’ leader in the Rajya Sabha, Ramgopal Yadav, said.

“Before it announced the creation of a Telangana state, this government did not do the necessary homework on crucial matters such as water-sharing and resource distribution. Today it is Andhra; tomorrow it may be Uttar Pradesh.”

Samajwadi insiders said it made hardly any “political sense” to continue propping up a dispensation that had “anyway been voted out by the people”.

“The Congress rout in the Assembly elections has demonstrated that the party has lost its mandate. The sooner we withdraw support, the better,” a Samajwadi source said.

On the Lokpal Bill, Yadav said: “We said we were opposed to it from the beginning because it vests undue authority in bureaucrats — even middle and lower-level officials will have the right to question the Prime Minister if he were ever to be probed.”

A source said the Samajwadis’ recent move to back Pramod Tiwari, a Congress MLA from Uttar Pradesh, in the Rajya Sabha elections had nothing to do with the party’s equations with the Congress.

“Tiwari had been badly sidelined by the Congress high command although he is one of the few party leaders who have never lost an election,” he said.

“For a long time, he has been wishing to move to Delhi and get out of the Congress’s clutches. Mulayam Singhji is an old friend of Tiwari and decided to help him out.”