The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cong MLAs’ hopes on hold

New Delhi, Sept. 1: Congress legislators from Uttar Pradesh returned to Lucknow without a nod from party president Sonia Gandhi to join Mulayam Singh Yadav’s ministry.

The Congress’ central leadership said it is yet to receive a formal offer from the new chief minister. “There is no formal invitation (to join the ministry) from Mulayam so far. Nor has there been any talk on this issue with Sonia Gandhi,” said Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi.

Therefore, there was no decision yet on the question of joining the ministry and it would be highly premature to state anything in definitive terms. Party sources said a decision would have to wait till the Samajwadi chief’s meeting with Sonia. An early meeting, however, is unlikely.

The Congress chief, who was in Champaran in Raipur district to attend a party function, is slated to visit Karnataka tomorrow. Mulayam Singh, on the other hand, will be busy with the Assembly session in Lucknow called to seek a mandatory trust vote.

Sonia today said there is sufficient time to take a decision, adds PTI. “Faisla lene mein abhi kafi samay hai.”

Sources suggest the Congress leadership might be deferring the decision as it was not positively inclined to the idea of joining the ministry headed by an “unreliable” Mulayam Singh.

Congress leaders from Uttar Pradesh, including state party president Jagadambika Pal and legislature party leader Pramod Tiwari who had been camping in the capital over the weekend, knocked on the doors of every available working committee member to impress upon Sonia to give them the green signal. Tiwari continued his efforts even today.

Singhvi, however, sought to downplay the pressure from state Congress leaders, saying the Uttar Pradesh unit is “divided” on the question of participation in the government.

The emphasis on “not having a formal invitation” from Mulayam Singh is considered significant in party circles. It holds a mirror to the leadership’s extreme distrust of the Samajwadi Party leader.

While the Congress leadership is ready to acknowledge Samajwadi’s primacy in Lucknow, it expects Mulayam Singh to accept its important role in New Delhi in return.

The party also harbours deep suspicion about Mulayam Singh’s Delhi ambitions. The Congress feels the Samajwadi leader’s return to the chief minister’s chair might revive talks of another “third front” experiment at the national level — a prospect the Congress leadership is not very comfortable about.

BJP meet

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will chair a meeting of the BJP top brass in Delhi on September 8 to review the political situation in Uttar Pradesh.

The meeting — the first since Mayavati’s resignation as chief minister and her parting of ways with the BJP — will discuss the fallout of these developments on the party’s poll prospects.

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