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Breather on trust, hard to get on Lokpal

Mulayam Singh Yadav

New Delhi, Dec. 16: The Samajwadi Party today changed its mind and decided not to support the no-confidence motion being planned by opponents of statehood for Telangana.

But Mulayam Singh Yadav and his party colleagues continued their staunch opposition to the Lokpal bill, which the government and the BJP want to pass in the Rajya Sabha.

Samajwadi sources denied media reports about having dropped their opposition to the bill.

The party, however, has had second thoughts on the no-trust motion that the Telugu Desam, Congress rebels from Andhra Pradesh, and the YSR Congress want to move in the Lok Sabha.

The Samajwadis were inclined to back the proposed motion on Friday. But a source said that the majority opinion at this morning’s parliamentary party meeting was that such a move was “pointless” just before a general election.

Samajwadi support for the motion — if its authors secured the numbers to be able to move it — would have left the government short of majority by about 15 votes. But the BJP has so far been saying it will walk out before a vote.

As the Samajwadis dug in their heels against the anti-graft Lokpal bill, the BJP ramped up pressure to have it passed — if necessary, without a discussion.

Arun Jaitley, leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, served notice to have Question Hour suspended on Tuesday so that the Lokpal bill can be taken up and passed without ado. He emphasised the stand at an all-party meeting called this afternoon by Rajya Sabha chairperson Hamid Ansari.

However, the Samajwadis and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) did not show up. BSP sources later blamed the “inordinately short notice” from the Rajya Sabha secretariat.

A source close to Mulayam said the party had been “taken aback” by newspaper reports that suggested the Samajwadis were prepared to endorse the Lokpal bill.

“These reports seem to be emanating from the government. Nobody from the government or the Congress contacted our leaders. If they had, our answer would have been a firm ‘no’ to Lokpal,” the source said.

“Our fundamental conviction is that the bill gives extraordinary powers to the officials, so extraordinary that they can sit on the Prime Minister’s head if they want to.”

He added: “Other parties privately share our views. But in this climate of a hate campaign against politicians, they are scared to place their views on record. We are not.”

Samajwadi leader Ram Gopal Yadav told reporters outside Parliament that the party had given no assurance to the Rajya Sabha chairperson that it would not disrupt the House when the bill is taken up tomorrow, PTI added.