New friends, new compromises
In reiteration of its resolve to “save” the Manmohan Singh government, a Samajwadi Party delegation will call upon President Pratibha Patil on Wednesday to submit a fresh letter pledging support to the Congress-led UPA government.
“I have informed the UPA chairperson that the SP will lend “issue-based” and “outside” support, party general secretary Amar Singh said after a meeting with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. He reiterated that the SP opposition to the UPA’s economic policies would continue.
The SP will issue a whip to ensure that party MPs cast their votes in favour of the nuclear deal, Singh announced after Tuesday’s meeting of its parliamentary party.
Confronted with the reported unhappiness of party’s Muslim MPs, chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said his flock was intact.
While the air is thick with speculation of the 39-strong SP parliamentary party being split, Mulayam said there was “complete unanimity over the decision to support the UPA government on the nuclear deal. All talk about Muslim MPs being unhappy was utter rubbish”.
Parading some Muslim MPs before the media, Mulayam sought to rub in the point saying the “nuclear deal had been welcomed by Muslims across UP, including Deoband, Saharanpur, Varanasi, Kanpur and Bareilly”.
His defensive approach is understandable. Following the footsteps of rebel member Chaudhary Munawwar Hasan, MP from the reserved Mohanlalganj constituency Jai Prakash Rawat went public on Tuesday to announce his opposition to the party’s abrupt decision to extend support to the deal and claimed this view was shared by about 10 other MPs — “including those that attended the parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday”.
At a press conference, Rawat refused to divulge names of these MPs and remained ambivalent on the question of defying the party whip in a trust vote.
Rawat was one among the 10 absentees at Tuesday’s meeting. However, not all absentees deserve to be branded anti-nuke proponents or rebels.
For instance, the list includes Radhey Shyam Kori, Kirti Vardhan Singh, Mohan Singh and Kunwar Rewati Raman Singh (all of who could not attend because of personal reasons). Four suspended members — Beni Prasad Verma, Raj Babbar, Munawwar Hassan and Ateeq Ahmed — were not invited. Another, Afzal Ansari, is in jail.
Even so, the SP camp has suddenly become vulnerable to poachers. Countering reports about the BSP’s efforts to wean away about a dozen members, Singh claimed that about seven BSP MPs wanted to join his party.
Incidentally, National Loktantrik Party member from Opardauna, Baleshwar Yadav, attended the meeting.