The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mayavati links Mulayam, Cong

New Delhi, Feb. 3: Stung by the poaching of its legislators in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress today bared its fangs at the Mayavati government and showed the first signs of a thaw with arch rival Mulayam Singh Yadav.

The party has decided to move a no-confidence motion against the Mayavati government and a no-trust vote against Speaker Kesri Nath Tripathi when the Assembly meets early next month for the budget session.

It is keen to cash in on the disenchantment of all 28 Rajput MLAs of the BJP with the Mayavati government for charging Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiyya, an Independent MLA of their caste, and his father under the anti-terror law with a conspiracy to eliminate her.

Till now, the Congress was reluctant to target Mayavati and was ambivalent about supporting Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, the main Opposition party in the Assembly.

Following a meeting of the 15 party MLAs and senior leaders from the state with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in the capital this morning, Congress Legislature Party leader Pramod Tiwari announced that his party will spearhead the twin no-trust moves in the Assembly next month.

The 75-minute meeting followed Sonia’s “significant” conclave late last evening with Mulayam at her residence. This was their first meeting since the one in December that ended on an unhappy note after Mulayam made an unsuccessful bid to garner Congress support for a move to dislodge Mayavati.

Though Mulayam today ruled out forming a front with the Congress, he kept open the option of “issue-based” support. The Congress, it seems, is confident the Samajwadi Party will work in tandem with it to take the battle to the BSP-BJP in the coming weeks.

The split in the Congress has unnerved Mulayam as Mayavati had threatened in Delhi last week that two dozen Samajwadi MLAs were willing to join her and he is aware that the two Opposition parties are equally vulnerable to poaching.

While considerable importance is being attached to Sunday’s Sonia-Mulayam meeting, Congress leaders remained tight-lipped on the talks. “We have no idea of what transpired between the leaders of the two important Opposition parties,” said Sonia’s political secretary Ambika Soni. Party spokesman Jaipal Reddy echoed her.

Reddy, however, dropped hints that Mulayam might be playing tough when he said that “no decisions” were taken during their meeting. Apparently, Sonia sought Mulayam’s backing for the Congress nominee in the Gauriganj Assembly bypoll and in return she offered to support the Samajwadi Party nominee in Haidergarh, the other constituency going for bypoll on February 26.

Mulayam has not responded to the proposal. The party will wait till February 7 — the last date for nomination — before its candidate for Haidergarh, Imran Kidwai, files his papers.

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