The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sonia shrugs off snub, toils for BSP

New Delhi, Feb. 27: Displaying the tact honed by a series of roadshows into interior India, Sonia Gandhi today glossed over a snub from Mayavati and went public with a fresh appeal for an alliance.

A day after the BSP leader clubbed the Congress with the BJP and branded both Manuvadis, Sonia addressed a convention of Dalits — Mayavati’s constituency — but refrained from striking back.

Sonia — who had launched her campaign caravan from Uttar Pradesh and is aware of the indispensability of an ally like the BSP in the heartland — used the opportunity to urge Dalit pressure groups to persuade leaders like Mayavati to close ranks with the Congress.

Without naming the BSP, Sonia said: “All those who are fighting against injustice and atrocities on poor in the country must come together to provide social justice and equality for all sections.”

She urged the organisers of the convention, the All India SC/ST Railway Employees Association, to convince Dalit parties like the BSP to fight the coming elections along with the Congress. A joint fight would be the best way the Dalit agenda could be taken forward, she added.

The public appeal followed her two unsuccessful round of dinner talks with Mayavati over the past few weeks. Mayavati has not categorically ruled out an alliance, but she has been taking swipes at the Congress from public platforms as she did yesterday in Patna.

Sonia did refer to the Patna potshot yesterday but confined herself to setting the record straight.

The Congress president disagreed with Mayavati’s assertion that the Congress had “insulted” B.R. Ambedkar in the early fifties.

Reacting to Mayavati’s comment that the party had not allowed the Father of the Constitution to enter the Lok Sabha in 1952, Sonia said that contrary to the BSP leader’s assertion, Ambedkar himself had praised the party.

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