The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Amar angles for lonely Natwar

New Delhi, Aug. 5: With former foreign minister Natwar Singh playing a not-so-subtle game with the Congress, the Samajwadi Party has intensified efforts to fish in troubled waters.

Sensing an imminent parting of ways, Mulayam Singh Yadav’s lieutenant Amar Singh has started making plans to facilitate Natwar’s entry into the Samajwadi Party as and when he decides to quit the Congress.

Although Natwar has kept his cards close to his chest, Amar made a surprise call on him last night. Although touted as a courtesy meeting, sources said Amar expressed solidarity with Natwar, seen as being made a scapegoat by the Congress in the oil-for-food scam.

Natwar has also called a meeting at his home tomorrow to fine-tune opposition to some of the features of the Indo-US nuclear deal. Representatives of the Samajwadi Party, BJP and the CPM are expected to take part in the parleys, according to a PTI report.

The sources said Amar has been in constant touch with him for some time. The proximity between the two has grown with Natwar’s increasing isolation in the Congress.

Natwar’s isolation sunk to its nadir after the Pathak inquiry reportedly exonerated the Congress but found him guilty of misusing his position to get contracts for two acquaintances in the oil-for-food scam.

The Congress leader, who does not have too many friends left in the party, has so far not responded to Amar’s feelers. But he has hinted that his stay in the Congress can no longer be taken for granted and that he is open to all other options.

“I will decide my own future,” Natwar told reporters yesterday.

This is why Amar is smelling an opportunity. Natwar could prove an asset for the Samajwadi Party if he decides to switch sides before the Uttar Pradesh elections.

A senior Samajwadi party leader said Natwar could be used by Mulayam in his anti-Congress campaign. Already, the party has started issuing statements on how Natwar has been made a scapegoat by the Congress.

A Jat leader of Rajasthan, Natwar can contribute a lot in garnering for Mulayam the support of his community, which has sizeable numbers in over 20 Assembly constituencies of western Uttar Pradesh.

The Samajwadi Party desperately needs a Jat leader to make up for the loss of its worsening ties with Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Ajit Singh.

Natwar could also help Mulayam rally Muslim voters in the state.

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