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Cong says ‘I do’, but leaders uneasy about strange bedfellow

Congressmen are waking up the harsh reality and problems of having the SP as a partner, reports Saroj Nagi.
Hindustan Times | By Saroj Nagi, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 06, 2008 02:24 AM IST

After the first surge of hope that the SP’s endorsement of the nuclear deal will save the government and the deal and stave off early Lok Sabha polls, Congressmen are waking up the harsh reality and problems of having the SP as a partner.

“An alliance with the SP may prove much more difficult to handle than the Left….The Samajwadi has already shown that,’’ said a prominent Congress leader pleading anonymity.

But even before Mulayam Singh Yadav’s party has formally spelt out its support, a section in the Congress is already worried about the future that may lie in store for them. “Even if the SP does not join the government as Amar Singh says, it will continue to harass the government with its stringent criticism and unreasonable demands,’’ said another leader.

Already a section in the party is talking of the time when — and not if — the SP pulls the plug. “It is likely to be on an emotive issue that would have us reeling,’’ he said, adding that there is already some speculation that it would be on the issue of Muslim reservation, which the government cannot concede.

“If the government falls on the nuclear deal, it would not make much of an impact. But if it has to go an emotional issue of this kind, it would cost us heavy across the country,’’ he said.

The leader recalled how the Congress hurtled towards near-decimation in UP after the Brahmins deserted the party following the firing on the karsevaks in Ayodhya. The BSP’s subsequent emergence prevented it from finding a toehold in the state.

“Why would the SP allow us a foothold when its entire focus is to safeguard its turf in the state?’’ he said.

Yet, the party realises it had few choices. While the Left’s support for over four years had helped it convey that it could run a coalition at the Centre — which it was experimenting with for the first time — the compulsions of doing so are likely to tell on the organisation. As it is, the Congress has not been able to use its coming to power at the Centre to rebuild the party organisation in states like UP and Bihar which account for 120 Lok Sabha seats.

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