The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mulayam, allies spar

Lucknow, Nov. 19: Mulayam Singh Yadav and his secular allies kept up their verbal duel as tension continued to simmer even a day after the Uttar Pradesh government’s new affidavit in the Supreme Court condemning the Babri mosque’s demolition.

The chief minister, who had come under attack for trying to save BJP leaders in the case, today blasted the Left parties and the Congress for doubting his secularism and “helping the BJP” with their irresponsible comments. He also turned down the demand of state Congress workers for replacing Speaker Kesari Nath Tripathi, a BJP leader.

In Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Jagdambika Pal was equally abrasive. He accused Mulayam Singh of “breach of trust” by not forming a co-ordination committee comprising allies and retaining a BJP person as Speaker.

After a meeting of state Congress leaders, Pal told reporters that “though there is no question of withdrawal of support to the Mulayam government, we are certainly not happy with the way things are”.

Tripathi’s retention is only one of the issues on which Congress leaders are at loggerheads with the Samajwadi Party chief.

After the high command blocked their entry into the government by confining the party’s support “from outside”, they had hoped they would at least be consulted on important policy decisions.

But the Samajwadi boss has steadily ignored them. Whether it concerned appointments of chairmen of public sector units or nominations to local bodies, he has preferred to deal directly with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.

State Congress leaders have now decided to take on Mulayam Singh on the Tripathi issue to highlight his pro-BJP slant and win over Muslim voters. They are hoping to convince Sonia that there is no point in continuing support to the government.

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