The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Yadavs in unity show

New Delhi, April 30: Prime Ministership is certainly not the flavour of the moment in the so-called secular front; it would appear unity of purpose is.

Far apart in Delhi and Bihar, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Laloo Prasad Yadav echoed each other when both said the top post is not an issue “at the moment”.

“I have never tried to become a leader, not even chief minister. This all depends on the people. But what you are indicating about prime ministership — I am not a candidate for the post at the moment,” the Samajwadi Party chief told TV channels in Delhi.

The Rashtriya Janata Dal chief told a rally in Sheikhpura that the “choice of a leader… is not an issue before the secular front at the moment”. “Right now, we are solely focusing on ousting the NDA from power,” he said.

The other Yadav stalwart almost matched him word for word when he was asked if his party could join an NDA government. “The Samajwadi Party will make all efforts to prevent the BJP from forming the government at any cost.”

“What shape the government will take will be decided after the results are out on May 13,” he added.

Laloo Prasad said: “Leaders of all the constituents of the secular front will sit together and choose (the) prime ministerial candidate amicably after the polls, through mutual discussions.”

The Uttar Pradesh chief minister added fuel to speculations of a third-front revival when he said he would meet leaders of smaller secular parties if they were placed in a “better position”, post-polls.

The reports of Muslims in Uttar Pradesh shifting allegiance to the Congress notwithstanding, Mulayam Singh hinted that his party would play a “significant role” in determining who becomes the Prime Minister.

He had last week sought and secured a certificate of secularism from CPM general secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet after rumours of a post-poll BJP-Samajwadi tie-up refused to die down.

Laloo Prasad had till Wednesday questioned his secular credentials, saying Mulayam Singh had a covert understanding with the BJP to split secular votes. Ram Vilas Paswan, too, had said as much.

Laloo Prasad’s new tune may have something to do with his talk with Surjeet, according to sources, who impressed upon him the need for secular camp unity.

The CPM leader is also believed to have advised Mulayam Singh to adopt a passive, if not active, pro-Congress stand so as not to alienate minority voters.

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayavati, however, is still unconvinced. She cautioned voters in Lucknow today against a “tacit understanding” between the Samajwadi and the BJP and said they would “come together” after the elections.

The impression had gained further ground after Atal Bihari Vajpayee recently said his party and the Samajwadi had no ideological differences.

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