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Naidu eyes UNPA top post

After Om Prakash Chautala “removed” Mulayam Singh Yadav from the UNPA chairman’s post, the TDP has been quick to lay claim to it for its leader N Chandrababu Naidu.

india Updated: Jul 10, 2008 01:13 IST

After Om Prakash Chautala “removed” Mulayam Singh Yadav from the UNPA chairman’s post, the TDP has been quick to lay claim to it for its leader N Chandrababu Naidu. But the Samajwadi Party – which walked into Rashtrapati Bhawan to support the Manmohan Singh government – made it clear on Wednesday that it hadn’t walked out of the UNPA. And yes, the UNPA chairman’s post wasn’t up for grabs.

“Mulayam Singh Yadav is still the chairman of the UNPA,” Ram Gopal Yadav, chief of the SP’s parliamentary party told HT, suggesting that without the SP, the United National Progressive Alliance did not mean anything.

With its 39 members in the Lok Sabha, the SP had the maximum number of MPs in the loose formation of five parties that came together more than a year ago, vowing to maintain equidistance from the Congress and the BJP. The Telugu Desam Party, Indian National Lok Dal, National Conference and Asom Gana Parishad were the other partners.

Soon after the photo-op after the UNPA meeting last week that had them standing hand in hand, Mulayam went to meet former president APJ Abdul Kalam to discover the merits of the nuclear deal.

Chautala was one of the first to announce the SP’s departure from what had started out as the non-aligned movement of the political formations in the country.

“I am pained to know that the Samajwadi Party is no longer a part of the UNPA. This, despite Mulayam being the founder-member of the alliance,” Chautala had said.

On Wednesday, TDP chief Naidu also looked at the UNPA minus the SP. "The UNPA was formed with five partners. If one of them (SP) breaks away, some other like-minded parties may join the formation. We will move forward despite setbacks," Naidu said.

The SP leadership’s ouster from the alliance prepared the ground for the TDP leaders to make way for their

party chief. “For the timebeing, as the TDP party is the biggest party in the UNPA, N Chandrababu Naidu will also act as its chairman,” TDP MP and spokesman MV Mysura Reddy said on Wednesday.

AGP MP Arun Kumar Sarma, however, insisted that size had nothing to do with the leadership claim. All these are matters that would be decided at the UNPA meeting to be held soon, he said.

The SP made it clear that it had no intention of letting go of the leadership role in the alliance. Ram Gopal Yadav said the UNPA did not mean anything without the SP. “Other people can walk out and join the BJP,” he said in a veiled reference to the close ties that the remaining four allies in the “non-aligned” grouping had with the BJP.

AGP president Brindaban Goswami, however, emphasised that there was no way that the SP could be counted as part of the UNPA. “The alliance took the decision to call for a national debate. They went ahead and supported the nuclear deal,” Goswami said.

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