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SP willing to do business with Cong

SP general secretary Amar Singh signalled his party's willingness to do business with the Congress but stopped short of committing his party's support for Govt if the Left withdraws support over the N-deal, reports Srinand Jha.
Hindustan Times | By Srinand Jha, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 01, 2008 01:38 AM IST

Two days ahead of the crucial meeting of the United Nationalist Progressive Alliance (UNPA) partners, Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh signalled his party’s willingness to do business with the Congress but stopped short of committing his party’s support for the Manmohan Singh government if the Left withdraws support over the nuclear deal.

In an attempt to redefine his party’s relations with the Congress, Singh reiterated that “the time has come to opt for the lesser evil”. He said, “Politics should not be governed by past hurts, prejudices and personal egos”. Issues need to be taken in the right context and we need to see what is the best that can be done to avoid a crisis, he told NDTV.

In contrast, UNPA constituents the Indian National Lok Dal and Asom Gana Parishad maintained their opposition to the nuclear deal, with INLD leader Om Prakash Chautala stating that the July 3 meeting would reiterate the alliance’s stand against the deal.

But in his interview with the news channel, Amar Singh asserted that the SP was willing to talk to the Prime Minister (on the nuclear deal). A national crisis is about the “nation” and did not concern politics, he said. If the Prime Minister wants to engage in discussions, it is not wrong to talk to him, he said, adding, “You may agree to disagree, but non-communication is the worst thing in politics”.

The SP leader’s remarks assume significance in the backdrop of speculation that the SP (with 39 members in the Lok Sabha) might bail the Manmohan Singh government out in the event of the Left’s withdrawal of support. He, however, maintained that no talking point or meeting point had been reached with the Congress and that no negotiation or dialogue had started with the party.

“If there is some point which we have not taken care of or missed or if something is brought to our notice, we are open to going through it,” he said.

Singh said his party's stated position (on the nuclear deal) could not change overnight and that the Congress had not provided any position or reason to change the SP's stand.

Stating that the UNPA’s position on the nuclear question would be announced after the July 3 meeting, Singh said he would be consulting party colleagues and also meet CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat in this connection.

Early this month, Singh had remarked about “choosing the lesser evil” in the context of reports of a growing bonhomie between the BJP and BSP. Now the “cat is out of the bag” — as shown by Advani’s speech in Kanpur a couple of days ago, he said.

TDP supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu said reports of an SP-Congress bonhomie did not threaten the existence of the UNPA. Admitting that Mulayam Singh Yadav had not given him any assurance that the SP would not support the Congress, Naidu refused to be drawn into the issue.

Speaking to Hindustan Times, the INLD’s Om Prakash Chautala asserted that “all media speculation” concerning the SP would be put to rest after the July 3 meeting when the UNPA partners would announce their opposition to the nuclear deal in no uncertain terms. The Asom Gana Parishad’s Brindaban Goswami has already criticised the deal severely.

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