The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sonia sounds Mulayam on Delhi tie-up

New Delhi, Sept. 11: For Congress leaders in Uttar Pradesh, joining Mulayam Singh Yadav’s ministry may be the immediate priority. But when the Samajwadi Party chief met Sonia Gandhi in the capital last night, the Congress chief is learnt to have sounded him on the scope for a tie-up for next year’s parliamentary polls.

“The Congress president has broached the subject of parliamentary elections with Mulayam Singh,” said an AICC functionary associated with Uttar Pradesh politics. The new chief minister, apparently, gave encouraging indications.

Sources said Sonia’s initiative is an obvious indication that her priority is to work out a strategy for the parliamentary elections. But because of the Samajwadi leader’s open mind on the issue, she is learnt to have expressed her readiness to enter into a closer arrangement with the Mulayam Singh government.

Even so, Sonia is unlikely to straightaway give the green signal to the Uttar Pradesh leadership to join the ministry despite Mulayam Singh’s formal invite. “For us, joining the government is not the only issue. It is important to have an understanding on the policies and programmes that the government would follow,” said a senior party leader.

Sonia is believed to have suggested to Mulayam Singh that the parties supporting his government set up a coordination committee and work out a common minimum programme.

The chief minister apparently told her he would initiate action in consultation with leaders of all supporting parties. Indications are Sonia might even ask some of her senior colleagues to participate in the consultations when the Samajwadi leader starts the process.

These steps might, perhaps, pave the way for the Congress’ participation in Mulayam Singh’s ministry. However, the general view in party circles is that the whole process will take time — time enough to also hold detailed consultations with the Samajwadi on the key issue of a tie-up for the parliamentary polls.

Sections in the party want the decision on joining the Mulayam Singh government to be somehow delayed until the Assembly elections in five states later this year.

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