SP denies seeking ministers' removal
The Samajwadi Party denied Thursday that it had sought the removal of two senior cabinet ministers in exchange for its support to the Congress-led government.
"We have not asked for their removal," Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh told reporters in New Delhi, referring to Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Petroleum Minister Murli Deora.
A published report Thursday said the Samajwadi Party wanted both ministers to be dropped in order to reduce the "anti-incumbency" over rising food prices in the event the Samajwadi Party backed the government.
But while criticising both the ministers, Amar Singh said it was for the government and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh "to deicide how to tackle them. This is not our work.
"Whether they want to retain such a finance minister or not, whether they want to retain such a petroleum minister or not, it is for the Congress and PM to decide."
Amar Singh was speaking after a marathon meeting of the United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA), which groups his Samajwadi Party, the Telegu Desam Party and the Indian National Lok Dal among others.
Amar Singh demanded a ban on the export of petroleum products, cement and steel.
"We are against the statement by the petroleum minister to allow windfall profit for private oil companies," he added. And he hit out at Chidambaram for the unabated inflation.
Earlier, the ruling Congress denied receiving any "wish-list" from the Samajwadi Party as a quid pro quo to prop up Manmohan Singh's government if and when the Left withdraws support over the India-US nuclear deal.
"It is the prime Minister's prerogative to decide who serves in his cabinet. That is the traditional constitutional provision and it will remain like that," Congress spokesman Manish Tewari told IANS.
Party MP Jayanti Natarajan added: "It is the political dialogue that is taking place (between the Congress and Samajwadi Party). It is about political give and take. Nothing else is involved."