Somnath Chatterjee had asked us to support N-deal: Amar Singh
Samajwadi Party, which had been against the nuclear deal initially, on Wednesday said it had changed its stand and supported the UPA government on the issue last year at the behest of outgoing Speaker Somnath Chatterjee despite "bitter relations" with Congress.
"Somnath Chatterjee asked us to support the UPA government on the nuclear deal, by forgetting all the acrimony," SP general secretary Amar Singh told reporters in New Delhi.
"Before we supported the Congress-led coalition, for four and a half years there were bitter relations between SP and Congress. However, Somnath Da asked me to support the deal for the sake of national interest," Singh said.
Noting that the Speaker had not approached SP for support to the government, Singh said: "We used to meet often as I respect him a lot. And it was during our meetings with him that he suggested to us that the nuclear deal was in the national interest."
This is for the first time that SP has given credit to Chatterjee for its turnaround on the issue. Earlier, it had said that it changed its stand at the behest of former President A P J Abdul Kalam.SP, which had 39 members in the dissolved Lok Sabha, saved the UPA government from falling in July last year as it gave support when Left parties withdrew over the nuclear deal.
Singh said he has a lot of respect for Chatterjee and SP even "desperately wanted him to be the President".
After Chatterjee, the SP leader said, he has the highest regard for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Singh said after meeting Kalam and Chatterjee's assurance, his party decided to support the UPA on the nuclear deal.
"We did not do any favour to the government by doing so, as we did not hanker for any ministerial berth. Despite pressure from various political parties, we supported the deal.
Despite this, if today Mayawati describes herself as a younger sister of the Prime Minister and offers outside support to UPA, then this is political opportunism on part of BSP," he said.
The SP leader said that he did not ditch the UPA. "I tried to save the alliance, but Congress did not accept our offer of 19 seats and decided to contest on its own in Uttar Pradesh. It should know that arrogance does not augur well for anybody," he added.