The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mulayam asks Cong to pay UP price for Gujarat

New Delhi, Sept. 12: Call it the politics of blackmail.

The Samajwadi Party today said if the Congress wants to prove its secular credentials, it must align with it in Uttar Pradesh. If it does not, Sonia Gandhi’s party may have to pay a heavy price in Gujarat.

Besides, Mulayam Singh Yadav’s party warned, it might also end up taking a stand on the Congress president’s foreign origin.

The Samajwadi wants the Congress to act fast so that it could pull down the “communal” government in Lucknow. As quid pro quo, it could join the Congress-led alliance for the Gujarat elections.

Samajwadi general secretary Amar Singh explained his party’s logic. At a news conference here, he asked why “secularism” did not apply in Uttar Pradesh if it could in Gujarat and Delhi.

Asked about his party’s stand on Sonia’s foreign origin, Singh said he personally felt it was a “dead issue” as the Supreme Court had ruled that she was an Indian citizen. But the party, which had reservations about Sonia becoming Prime Minister in 1999, will take a decision later. “We have not had consultations in the party on this issue,” Singh said. “When the time comes we will take a view.”

The Samajwadi leader said he found it strange that former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar, who had tried to make Sonia Prime Minister, was so vociferously opposing her now.

Singh criticised the Centre’s Kashmir policy, which, he felt, was marked by contradictions. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, his deputy L.K. Advani and defence minister George Fernandes were speaking in different voices, he said, while urban development minister Jagmohan, in his book Frozen Turbulence, had rubbished Fernandes.

The Samajwadi leader said his party, at its parliamentary board meeting yesterday, had opposed converting the Line of Control into an international border as it would mean “succumbing” to US pressure.

Singh also slammed Narendra Modi for asking Muslims to stop “breeding” in large numbers and for describing the relief camps as “baby manufacturing factories”. He demanded that the caretaker chief minister of Gujarat be arrested under the anti-terror Act for such “despicable” utterances.

But the focus at today’s news conference was on Congress support to the Samajwadi to topple the Mayavati-led government in Lucknow. “Unless the opportunist, communal alliance in Uttar Pradesh is driven out from power, there is no possibility of any secular alliance in Gujarat and the Congress has to pay a heavy price in Gujarat for not cooperating in overthrowing the communal, opportunist alliance in UP,” Singh said.

He said it was up to the Congress now to set up a front of “secular forces” to fight the BJP in Gujarat. “The Congress has not taken any initiative as yet. If no alliance is formed against the communal forces in the state, then the blame for dividing the secular vote will fall on the Congress,” he said, making it clear that the onus of ensuring secular unity did not rest with the Samajwadi alone.

On Mayavati’s proposed “dhikkar (protest) rally” in Uttar Pradesh to denounce the Samajwadi and the Congress, Singh said she should “first denounce Union minister Arun Shourie” over his book Worshipping False Gods, where he has criticised B.R. Ambedkar.

“She should get the book banned, get Shourie out of the Cabinet…” Singh said. “Those who live in glass houses cannot throw stones at others.”

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