The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Amar hangs on, Arjun holds back

New Delhi, Oct. 29: Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh came looking for assurance but Congress leader Arjun Singh had little to offer.

The Amar-Arjun meeting failed to accelerate the formation of an alternative government in Uttar Pradesh. The two sides did not go beyond reiterating the need to consolidate secular forces.

Congress sources claimed that Uttar Pradesh was not a “priority area” for Sonia Gandhi in terms of either toppling the Mayavati regime or crowning Mulayam Singh.

“We are focused on Gujarat. In our assessment, once we net Gujarat, the BJP would fall like nine pins and we alone would emerge as a national alternative,” a source close to Sonia said, emphasising that the AICC leadership was less than enthusiastic about going all out to help Mulayam.

Amar, however, kept up his efforts to bring round the Congress, whose 25 MLAs have a crucial bearing in the complex numbers game in Uttar Pradesh. He said the ouster of the BJP-BSP combine on the eve of the Gujarat polls would severely demoralise the BJP.

Arjun said the Congress was yet to formally respond to the Samajwadi’s request to openly back Mulayam to topple the Mayavati government in the state.

On his part, Amar paid handsome compliments to Arjun who is increasingly perceived as a close lieutenant of the Congress chief.

Speaking soon after meeting Arjun, Amar said: “He is one of the tallest leaders in north India. I have had an opportunity to work with him as Congress functionary. I came to seek his blessings to form an alternative government with the support of the Congress party.”

Keeping a brave face, Amar said there was a real possibility of mustering enough numbers to form an alternative government in Uttar Pradesh and clarified that his party was not in a toppling game.

“The fact of the matter is that the BSP-BJP government in Uttar Pradesh is tottering due to its inner contradictions,” he said.

Arjun said since Mulayam, Amar and Harkishen Singh Surjeet had already met the Congress president and other senior leaders, he would not like to say anything till matters were decided by Sonia. “No discussion has taken place on the issue. Whenever it is discussed, I will definitely express my views,” he said when asked why the Congress was delaying a decision on the matter.

Amar said he was aware that the Congress, being a national party, had its own system for taking decisions. But he exuded confidence that the Congress would decide keeping in mind the “larger interests” of the nation threatened by communal and opportunistic forces.

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