The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Congress pullout bell

New Delhi, Nov. 17: Encouraged by the Mulayam Singh Yadav government’s about-turn on its Babri affidavit, the Congress today chose to downplay its differences with the ruling Samajwadi Party but issued a veiled threat of parting ways if status quo was not restored.

Chief spokesman S. Jaipal Reddy said this evening that since the government has removed its counsel who submitted the affidavit and also disowned its contents, “we do not know the final stand of the Uttar Pradesh government”.

“But we will even consider a review of our support to the government if the criminal conspiracy charges are not restored against (L.K.) Advani and other BJP leaders,” he added.

With Assembly polls to five states round the corner, the Congress leadership has decided to play safe. The party, which privately believes Mulayam Singh is playing a “double game” with the BJP and the secular allies, is waiting for the chief minister to make a move that will end all doubts among his Muslim constituency about his “secret understanding with the BJP”.

That would be the time to part ways with him and, perhaps, formally forge an understanding with Mayavati’s Bahujan Samaj Party. Congress leaders said this should be done closer to the general elections, scheduled next year.

Till such time, the Congress, without any prospect of getting solid support of state Muslims, is unlikely to commit the “indiscretion” of dumping Mulayam Singh in a hurry.

The Congress leadership is hoping the chief minister, through a new government counsel, will approach the Supreme Court with a fresh affidavit that would reopen the criminal conspiracy charge against the Babri demolition accused.

For instance, Jaipal asserted the government’s move today was prompted by the strong reaction of his party in the state and of other “friendly parties”. But privately, Congress leaders were unsure of Mulayam Singh reviving the charge. “Mulayam,” they believe, “had entered into a secret pact with Advani before he became chief minister”.

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