Mulayam's missing flock

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By NISHIT DHOLABHAI in Delhi
  • Published 18.07.08
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New Delhi, July 18: Three days to the trust vote, a few of the UPA’s 39 foul-weather friends are straining at the leash.

At least 10 Samajwadi Party MPs skipped the parliamentary party meeting today, fanning rumours that Mulayam Singh Yadav had not been able to rein in his flock.

The party issued a whip that its MPs were to vote for the government at the July 22 floor test, but appeared uneasy that 10 had ignored its call. It stubbed out whispers that only 21 MPs had shown up.

Between maintaining a studied silence on the absentees and taking up the cudgels to justify their absence, some leaders confirmed that the votes of four Samajwadi MPs could be considered lost.

These are Munawar Hasan, Ateeq Ahmed, Jaiprakash Rawat and Rajnarayan Budholiya.

The others who did not show up were Raj Babbar, Beniprasad Verma, Afzal Ansari and S. Bangarappa. A wedding is believed to have kept Salim Sherwani away and a death Usha Verma.

“Afzal has assured he will be here on Monday while Munawar has virtually been out of the party for over a year,” MP Reoti Raman Singh said.

Verma and Babbar have apparently crossed over to the Congress, which is good news for the UPA as it tries to crawl to the magic 272 mark.

Bangarappa said over the phone from Bangalore he was “very much with the party’s decision” to back the nuclear deal. But his colleagues kept mum about his absence.

Of the four deserters, Muzaffarnagar MP Hasan surfaced at a news conference in Delhi and claimed he was offered Rs 25 crore by a private company’s chartered accountant to vote for the government.

Budholiya said over the phone: “I disagree with the party on the deal. I think the government will not survive.”