The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mulayam taps Sonia and Ajit

New Delhi, May 29: The Samajwadi Party’s two meetings today appeared to hint at the emergence of an Opposition coalition in Uttar Pradesh.

Samajwadi president Mulayam Singh Yadav first called on his Congress counterpart, Sonia Gandhi, before she took off for Srinagar. He next met Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Ajit Singh, who recently quit the Union Cabinet as agriculture minister.

The second meeting assumed significance because of the bitter relations between the two caste chieftains, each of whom fancied Uttar Pradesh as his fief. Soon after completing the last rites of his wife this morning at his hometown Etawah, Mulayam met Sonia here for 30 minutes.

Later, he told reporters: “Everybody is frightened. Uttar Pradesh is completely ruined. In this political scenario, if Uttar Pradesh is ruined, Hindustan is ruined. If Ajit Singh can do something, it is welcome.”

Mulayam next met the RLD chief after attending his father Chowdhury Charan Singh’s death anniversary function at Kisan Ghat.

Samajwadi general secretary Amar Singh and Congress Working Committee members Ahmed Patel and Naval Kishore Sharma were also present. The Congress has entrusted Sharma with the charge of Uttar Pradesh.

But neither Samajwadi nor RLD sources were willing to confirm whether today’s interactions were meant to formulate a strategy to oust the BJP-BSP state government or forge an alliance for next year’s Lok Sabha poll. “We are closing ranks, but we are not interested in doing anything to the Mayavati government. If it falls, it will be because of inner contradictions,” a Samajwadi source said.

The BJP made light of the meetings. “There is no question of the Uttar Pradesh government falling,” Shivraj Singh Chauhan, the party’s new general secretary, told reporters in Hyderabad.

According to the BJP, the three Opposition parties were trying to regroup because each had to “protect” itself against chief minister Mayavati’s “unquestioned supremacy”.

Ajit Singh wanted to prevent a split in his party by holding up for his MLAs the “vision” of an alternative government; Mulayam to insulate himself against the charges slapped by Mayavati, though Allahabad High Court had stayed action on these charges; and the Congress to prevent its decimation after suffering two splits reducing its legislature strength to 16.

Political observers believe Uttar Pradesh could come up at the Congress chief ministers’ conclave in Srinagar, particularly after senior leader Arjun Singh recently sparked a debate by proposing that the party should align with like-minded outfits in states where it was weak.

Thawing the relations between the Congress and the Samajwadi further was the appointment of Jagdambika Pal as the new state Congress chief, replacing Arun Kumar Singh “Munna”.

Pal, who shares a rapport with Mulayam, was one of the first advocates of a Congress-Samajwadi alliance.

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