In response, the SP’s Ram Asrey Kushwaha called for Verma’s “immediate removal” from the cabinet while Akhilesh Yadav opened another front against the Congress, alleging it used the CBI to persecute those who refuse to toe its line. The Congress, however, appeared in no hurry to remove Verma.
“I was privy to Mulayam’s conversations with BJP’s LK Advani when I was in the SP and always found the SP chief committed to the saffron party,” Verma said in Lucknow.
Targeting the SP’s biggest vote bank, Muslims, he said, “Mulayam was UP CM when the Ayodhya movement gained momentum in 1990-91.” He also accused Mulayam of joining hands with BJP leaders such as Kalyan Singh and Shakshi Maharaj, and of assuring Advani in 1996 and 1998 that he would continue to oppose the Congress and Sonia Gandhi.
The minister also engaged in a verbal duel with Akhilesh over the results of the next general elections. Predicting the SP’s “funeral”, he said, “Mulayam will win only four seats.” But the UP chief minister suggested it would be the Congress that would get no more than four to five seats.
A few weeks ago, with the SP threatening to pull the plug on the UPA, Verma had had to publicly express regret over his remarks. Since then, Mulayam has been steadily hitting out at the Congress.