Samajwadi Party (SP) leaders Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh are all dressed up, but have nowhere to go.
Breathing fire and brimstone against the Congress in the pre-poll stages, SP leaders are virtually petitioning the ruling coalition’s lead party today for a reapprochement – offering the party’s support in the government formation efforts without any pre-conditions.
“We are ready to support a secular, democratic government, but no formal invite has come from the Prime Minister”, SP general secretary Amar Singh (53) said after a meeting of the party’s parliamentary board on Sunday.
“It is the Prime Minister’s prerogative to take a decision on questions such as the SP’s inclusion in the union cabinet and portfolios that can be offered to us”, Singh said.
Licking the wounds of the electoral reverses, SP leaders are also fraught with worries of the party being rendered politically irrelevant in the event of being kept out of the government formation exercise. .
Despite not having fared badly in the elections (the party’s seat count in the Lok Sabha has declined from 39 in 2004 to 26 this time), the SP cannot bargain with the Congress from a position of strength in the present circumstances. The party is also worried about its shrinking support base amongst minority Muslims. .
Announcing the decision accepting party’s founding member Azam Khan’s decision to resign as party general secretary, SP President Yadav (69) refused to accept the formulation that Khan’s rebellion might have triggered off a division amongst the SP’s traditional support base comprising minority Muslims.
By putting their weight behind party candidate at Rampur, Jaya Prada (47), Yadav and Singh were able to ensure her victory despite Khan’s opposition. However, records suggest that Khan’s rebellion triggered off a big shift in the SP’s traditional support base amongst Muslims.
All ten Muslim candidates fielded by the SP in the parliamentary elections have lost. These include names such as Altaf Ansari (Ghoshi), Shahid Manzoor (Meerut), Mahboob Ali (Amroha), Nawazish Alam Khan (Muzaffarnagar), Rashid Masood (Saharanpur), Shahdab Masood (Kairana), Nawab Iqbal Mahmood (Sambhal) and ST Hassan (Moradabad).
Even as the Congress continues to debate over the need to solicit support of numbers required in parliament from forth-front leaders including the SP’s Mulayam Singh Yadav and the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Lalu Prasad (61), SP leaders are being upfront in offering support to the Congress without a bargain.
Yadav and Singh met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (76) at the latter’s residence on Sunday evening to congratulate him on the decisive verdict. The duop refused to speak to the media after they emerged out of 7 Race Course Road. Singh will also be meeting senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee (74).
Three days before the announcement of the election results on May 16, the SP general secretary had thundered that his party would not repeat the mistake of behaving like a gentleman and that it would extract its “pound of flesh” in exchange for the support that it might offer to the Congress.
During the course of the election campaign, Singh had accused the Congress leaders of “betrayed” the SP after having been bailed out by the party in the parliamentary trust vote on the nuclear issue on July 22 last year.
In a chastened mood now, Singh refused to comment on recent statements of Congress leaders, who have hinted at the possibility of keeping the SP out of the government formation exercise.
“I do not react to such statements”, Singh said, while adding: “The SP was a “data” (giver) earlier) and is willing to be a “daata” even now. “But the initiative for this has to come from the side of the Congress”, Singh added.