The Telegraph
Friday , August 31 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Left joins Mulayam in UPA bailout

New Delhi, Aug. 30: The Left today joined Mulayam Singh Yadav’s effort to break the deadlock in Parliament over coal block allocations, a move that can aid the Samajwadi Party leader’s drive to steal political mileage from the BJP and bail out the UPA under attack from the principal Opposition.

Along with the Left, Telugu Desam and some other non-NDA non-UPA parties, Mulayam will lead a dharna outside Parliament’s gate tomorrow to demand a judicial probe into the coal block allocations and an end to the logjam in Parliament to discuss the whole issue.

“Tomorrow we will hold a dharna to end the logjam in Parliament and demand probe by a sitting Supreme Court judge into the coal block allocations,” Mulayam announced after a meeting with Left and TDP leaders.

The initiative by Mulayam was read in political circles as an effort by the ambitious leader to use the Left to steal some political mileage and also to come to the aid of the UPA under siege from the principal Opposition.

It is no secret that Mulayam, known for his shifting political positions, will be a contender for the Prime Minister if the 2014 Lok Sabha polls throws up a fractured verdict.

Realising that the BJP could walk away with all the credit over the coal controversy, Mulayam is engaging in competitive politics, sources said.

In the short term, Mulayam is expected to tap his clout among non-NDA opposition parties to help out the government and extract central help for his chief minister-son Akhilesh Yadav, Samajwadi sources said.

Mulayam’s equations with the Congress has looked good of late and, recently, Sonia Gandhi was seen conversing with him in Parliament. Thereafter, the Uttar Pradesh government ensured uninterrupted power supply to Rae Bareily and Amethi, the Lok Sabha constituencies of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.

The marginalised Left, however, chose to view tomorrow’s programme as their victory and said that the “secular opposition” parties had come to endorse its stand and take it forward.

The Left wants immediate cancellation of the coal block licences, a high-level probe and debate in Parliament.

“Mulayam called a meeting and it was attended by the Left and the TDP. Our aim is to unite non-NDA opposition parties as both the BJP and the Congress are involved in corruption and so they don’t want a debate in Parliament over the coal allocations,” the CPM’s leader in the Lok Sabha, Basudeb Acharia, said.

Mulayam, however, refrained from endorsing the Left’s demand for cancellation of coal licences. He confined himself to seeking a judicial probe and ending the Parliament logjam.

The government has firmly ruled out cancellation of the licences. The CBI is conducting a probe and the government will not be averse to announcing a judicial probe if it can take the steam out of the BJP’s campaign.

Asked if the Left was confidant of Mulayam’s backing, given his record of leaving political friends in the lurch, CPM politburo member Sitaram Yechury skirted a direct reply and suggested his party was only looking at short-term associations.

“We are aware. It could be both ways. But if we are travelling to Agra what is the wrong in getting companionship till Mathura?” Yechury said with a smile.

Yechury also refrained from a direct reply, asked whether cancellation of licences was a precondition for a debate in Parliament. “The government has to do something to break the logjam. Cancellation of licences could end the deadlock,” he said.