I am not in race for PM's job, says Mulayam

PTI | ByIndo-Asian News Service, New Delhi
May 13, 2004 12:36 AM IST

However, UP CM added that it was too early to predict anything and he would not go with the NDA.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav on Wednesday ruled out heading a new government if the ruling coalition failed to retain power, but said it was too early to predict anything.

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HT Image

Yadav also made it clear he would not go with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led coalition as the party, he said, was in cahoots with his main foe and predecessor Mayawati of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

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"I am not in the race for prime ministership," Yadav told reporters after a meeting with Marxist leader Harkishen Singh Surjeet and the Congress party's S. Jaipal Reddy New Delhi.

Cagey about his deliberations with Surjeet - a leading force in bringing together a divided opposition against the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) - Yadav said all decisions would be taken only after Thursday's counting of the millions of votes polled in staggered general elections.

"Only after the results we will know how many seats we win and what role who will play. Until then, I neither oppose nor support anyone."

This was his response to almost every query, including whether he would accept a coalition led by Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Asked whether he would support the NDA, which is desperately seeking friends to make up its predicted shortfall in a 272-seat majority in parliament, Yadav asserted he could not be with any party that backed the BSP.

"In my eyes, the BJP and the BSP are the same. The BJP has promised Mayawati that it will withdraw charges against her in the Taj heritage corridor case (in which she allegedly cleared the construction of commercial complexes near the Taj Mahal monument)."

While he insisted he wanted "secular forces" - a euphemism for non-BJP groups -- to join, he kept speculations of a centre-left Third Front alive as he said he would try to gather smaller parties together.

"I want to strengthen smaller parties," he said.

Over the past few days, as exit polls after the five-phase national ballot warned of a hung parliament, Yadav has hinted that he wishes to lead a Third Front government or be deputy prime minister in a Congress-led combine.

However, Yadav has not dropped his objections to Italy-born Congress chief Gandhi's candidature as prime minister on account of her foreign origin. But on Wednesday he refused to comment on the issue.

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