The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sonia calls truce in Lucknow
Bid to build secular force

New Delhi, March 9: The Congress has said it will do nothing to “destabilise” the Mulayam Singh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh.

After the Varanasi blasts, the party believes the time is ripe for all “good secularists” to come together in the state and “fight” the BJP.

Going by its decision today to put on hold the proposed no-confidence motion against the Congress-led government at the Centre, the Samajwadi Party seems to agree.

Sources said the cue came from Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who visited Varanasi hours after Tuesday’s serial blasts. She is believed to have told the party brass that the attack should not be politicised and that there should be no demands for Mulayam’s scalp or for imposing central rule on the state.

“Mulayam Singh welcomed Sonia Gandhi’s statement (about not politicising the Varanasi tragedy) in the Assembly and said the Centre was cooperating with his government in every possible way,” party spokesperson Rajiv Shukla told reporters.

He slammed BJP leaders L.K. Advani and Vinay Katiyar for politicising the incident and contested their party’s claim that there were no militant strikes in the states it ruled and when the NDA was in power at the Centre.

“The Akshardham temple was attacked by terrorists when Narendra Modi was the CM. Is he from the BJP or not' Parliament was attacked when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the PM. Terrorists don’t care about which party is in power,” Shukla said.

Gone was the rancour that marked the Congress’s responses towards the Samajwadi Party, the latest thorn in their relations being Jaya Bachchan’s impending disqualification as a Rajya Sabha MP for holding an office of profit.

But asked about the new law passed by the Uttar Pradesh Assembly reclassifying offices of profit, Shukla said: “The Mulayam government is an office of profit. Those who’ve converted politics into an office of profit are not going to exempt anything from the list of offices of profit.”

The reasons why Sonia is going soft on Mulayam are:

• The Congress sniffs a chance to woo Muslims via Mulayam. The community has been rallying behind him after the Samajwadi Party went ballistic on the Prophet’s cartoons and the nuclear deal. Now, following the blasts, Muslims would turn to Mulayam even more out of “heightened insecurity”.

• The Congress is wary that the BJP might gain from its conflict with the Samajwadi Party.

• The party realises that the Left, its key ally at the Centre, will not dump Mulayam, and as long as they are friends, there is little point in confronting him and “forcing” the Left to take sides.

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