Raising the level of brinkmanship with the Congress as the Lok Sabha polls approach, Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh on Sunday accused Congress’s Digvijay Singh of insulting Sanjay Dutt’s wife Manyata by asking “Manyata who?” on news channels.
Digvijay had said this when he was asked what he thought about the SP’s decision to field Manyata from Lucknow if Dutt — the party’s first choice for the seat — failed to get legal clearance to contest.
Amar said Digvijay should speak carefully, for the SP could also pay him back in his own coin posing the question “Lakshman Singh who?” and answer by saying that the latter was Digvijay’s brother who had joined the BJP.
“I would like to tell Digvijay Singh that Manyata is the daughter-in-law of the late Congress leader Sunil Dutt and Nargis Dutt, and wife of Sanjay Dutt,” Amar reminded Digvijay.
The Congress leader later denied having said what was attributed to him.
This incident is part of a larger process of mutual unease between the SP and the Congress. The parties had come together last year during the vote of confidence when the SP did a U-turn to back the Congress on the Indo-US nuclear deal — the decision being prompted by a desire to pool resources to check Mayawati in UP — but the two have not been able to reach any seat-sharing agreement in the state.
The SP has unilaterally announced its candidates for 47 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP, including some seats the Congress fancies as its strongholds. The 47th candidate to be announced was Chaudhary Sahib Singh from Baghpat.
Amar said he wanted to know if the Congress saw itself as a friend of the SP or a foe, saying that Congressman Vishwanath Chaturvedi was pursuing a legal case against SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. However, he added that there was still scope for an understanding with the Congress for the Lok Sabha polls.
The message from the SP is clear: It is the more powerful party in the state, and calls the shots.
The Congress wants to use the alliance to revive in a state where it has tumbled dramatically since the 1990s. But without the SP, its chances of returning to power at the Centre may suffer.