The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Delhi key to Sonia role in Lucknow
- congress in no hurry to join mulayam ministry

New Delhi, Aug. 29: Eager to become ministers after a spell of over 13 years out of power, Uttar Pradesh Congress legislators may have to spend some restless days as the high command is in no hurry to take a decision on joining the new Mulayam Singh Yadav government.

After a lengthy working committee meeting last night in which the pros and cons of joining the Mulayam Singh ministry was debated, senior party leaders took a “tactical decision” to authorise Congress president Sonia Gandhi to take a final view “at an appropriate time”.

Party chief spokesperson S. Jaipal Reddy said the working committee took no decision in favour of or against joining the government.

“The Congress leadership will watch the situation in UP and take appropriate decision,” he told newsmen.

Sources said Sonia will hold discussions with Mulayam Singh before taking a decision. In a follow-up to his open invitation to all supporting parties to join his ministry, the Congress leadership expects Mulayam Singh to approach Sonia for discussions.

On top of Sonia’s agenda for talks with Mulayam Singh would be next year’s Lok Sabha polls. Would the Samajwadi leader be ready for a tie-up with the Congress in the state' Would he be ready to support a Congress-led government at the Centre with Sonia as Prime Minister'

The Congress leadership would like to assure itself that the state-level tie-up, including participation in the government, would be extended to the parliamentary elections.

The leadership would want Mulayam to express his readiness to reciprocate at the national level by offering to support a Congress-led government at the Centre, sources said.

This is crucial for the Congress in view of speculation in political circles about a tacit tactical understanding between Mulayam Singh and the BJP leadership.

The matter was discussed in detail in the working committee, sources said.

“We have very limited stakes in joining the government, though our MLAs might be keen about it. For the Congress what is important is the Lok Sabha polls. Our decision on joining the government will be decided keeping in mind our strategy for the parliamentary polls,” said a senior party leader.

Joining Mulayam Singh’s government would virtually close the doors for possible talks with Mayavati’s Bahujan Samaj Party for the elections. Unless Mulayam Singh assures the party of a parliamentary poll alliance, the Congress is unlikely to display interest in joining his ministry.

For the time being, the Congress is unlikely to consider the BSP option for a poll tie-up in Uttar Pradesh. “The question does not arise at this stage. Nor is there any proposal from the BSP,” said sources.

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