The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sonia visits Kanshi

New Delhi, Sept. 23: Sonia Gandhi today visited the ailing Kanshi Ram in hospital, indicating the Congress’ preference for the Bahujan Samaj Party as an ally.

A party spokesperson said Sonia was at the hospital for almost an hour. Former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayavati, who took over as BSP president last week, was present during the late evening visit.

The Congress president was the first to contact the BSP leader after he was admitted to hospital last week following a brain stroke. She also sent a bouquet through her political secretary, Ahmad Patel.

Mayavati made it a point to acknowledge the gesture and shower praise on the leader of Opposition.

Sonia’s more-than-friendly gesture is being seen in the context of a crystallising view within the party that a tactical tie-up with the BSP could provide a cutting edge to the Congress’ re-election campaign in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and Rajasthan.

Though Mayavati today ruled out any alliance with either the Congress or the BJP, senior Congress leaders dismissed this as public posturing. Several leaders, including the chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Delhi, have spoken to her, they said.

While the Congress leadership appears to be working for a tacit understanding with the BSP for the November Assembly elections, it is reported to be seriously toying with an open alliance in Uttar Pradesh and adjoining states for the Lok Sabha polls next year.

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