The Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Thursday skipped a crucial meet of political parties and social activists against the land acquisition ordinance, signalling cracks in Opposition unity over the controversial bill.
Mulayam Singh Yadav’s SP and Mayawati’s BSP went unrepresented when the Congress, Left parties, Janata Dal (United) and several other parties shared the dais with social activists, including Medha Patkar.
The two parties, who draw political strength from the marginalised sections in Uttar Pradesh, had resisted the NDA government’s proposed changes to the 2013 land law. The BSP had earlier skipped the Sonia Gandhi-led march to Rashtrapati Bhavan against the land bill.
BJP floor managers in Parliament are talking to these two parties to help pass the bill in the Rajya Sabha, where the ruling alliance is in a minority.
Leaders saw fractures in the Opposition’s stand from SP’s absence at the meet. “We (Opposition) have fought together for a while. Do not know if all parties will remain firm or not. But the CPM will not betray you,” CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said.
Jairam Ramesh of the Congress took it forward from Yechury. “You should keep the pressure on us. You should also keep up the pressure on SP and BSP,” he said, addressing Patkar.
The Trinamool Congress was another formidable opponent of the land bill absent from Thursday’s meeting — not because it has softened its stand but to avoid sharing the stage with Leftist Yechury, sources said.
“We had sent invitations to 22 parties for the meeting. Among the big political parties, the AIADMK, SP and BSP didn’t come,” meet organizer and CPM leader Hannan Mollah said.