The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Amar calls on Sonia, BSP cries caution

New Delhi, Jan. 24: Sonia Gandhi’s meeting with Amar Singh last night has quickened the heartbeats of Opposition leaders who fear the BJP might use it to nip the emerging alliance between the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party.

Their fears seemed to have come true when a miffed BSP today said it would not make any “overtures” to the Congress. But Congress managers said they were still hopeful of a tie-up with Mayavati’s party.

A BSP-Congress alliance in Uttar Pradesh could see a shift of Muslim votes away from the Samajwadi to the disadvantage of both Mulayam Singh Yadav and the BJP. The BJP wants the minority votes to go to the Samajwadi because, if that happens, it could help in limiting the Congress tally to below 10 in the heartland state.

Amar Singh called on Sonia at her residence at 10.30 last night and though neither the Congress nor the Samajwadi apparently wanted to publicise the meeting for obvious reasons, it was leaked to the media. The Congress suspects the hand of intelligence agencies.

The Samajwadi general secretary, who had a 90-minute meeting with the Congress president, said he came to invite her for his birthday bash at the Ashoka hotel here on January 27.

Amar Singh said he also discussed Uttar Pradesh but clarified that his party was clear on its stand not to join any front.

“We are open to give and take support based on issues,” he asserted.

The meeting created more confusion in the ranks of parties not part of the central coalition. While the BSP reacted sharply, others wondered if Mulayam Singh had finally ended hostilities with the Congress or whether it was a ploy to pre-empt a possible Congress-BSP alliance or even a panic reaction to Kalyan Singh’s imminent return to the BJP.

BSP spokesperson Sudhir Goyal said: “This is not the time to take a decision (on forging an alliance with the Congress). The political situation is fast changing.”

The BSP national executive had last week authorised Mayavati to decide on alliances.

Goyal cautioned the Congress about the Samajwadi’s designs. “Amar Singh has gone to 10 Janpath to send a message to the BJP,” he said. “Mulayam Singh is overtaken by panic. It is (a) panic reaction.”

Janata Dal (S) general secretary Danish Ali said if Mulayam Singh was serious about a secular front, “he should have dropped the two ministers of the Rashtriya Kranti Party of Kalyan Singh”.

“He brought Sakshi Maharaj, who was the first one to strike an axe on the Babri Masjid, to the Rajya Sabha on a Samajwadi ticket. He also embraced Kalyan Singh, another accused in the masjid demolition case…. This type of politics will not do,” Ali said.

Cong plea to Kalam

The Congress has decided to approach President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, questioning the government’s move to hold the first Parliament session in the new year skipping the presidential address to the joint sitting of both Houses.

The Constitution requires that the first session of Parliament in a new year begin with the President’s address to a joint sitting of both Houses.

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