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SP, Cong moving closer to alliance

Ambikanand Sahay

Wednesday 9 July 2003, by SAHAY*Ambikanand

Article paru dans le Times of India, ?dition du 8 juillet 2003.

NEW DELHI: Their strategic shadow boxing from time to time apart, the Congress and the Samajwadi Party are definitely moving closer towards an ``understanding’’ that may ultimately pave the way for the formation of an alliance of all anti-BJP parties before the next Lok Sabha elections.

NEW DELHI: Their strategic shadow boxing from time to time apart, the Congress and the Samajwadi Party are definitely moving closer towards an ``understanding’’ that may ultimately pave the way for the formation of an alliance of all anti-BJP parties before the next Lok Sabha elections.

Both Mulayam Singh Yadav and Sonia Gandhi have taken U-turns from their respective rigid, non-negotiable positions. And what is more important is that they are on talking terms.

Already, the SP chief has recognised Sonia Gandhi’s ``Indianness’’. And, on her part, the Congress president has moved miles away from Pachmarhi, opening the doors for a possible alliance with like-minded parties. In informal discussions, both the parties see merit in the inevitability of coalition politics.

It is, however, a different thing if the two parties adopt a more cautious approach when it comes to announcing formal policies. The SP’s latest decision to go it alone in the four poll-bound states is more of a strategic statement - and not something that reflects the party’s futuristic approach.

There are three other reasons why Mulayam Singh Yadav’s party has taken this line. First, the two parties are thinking in terms of a pact for the Lok Sabha elections - and not the states. Second, the Congress chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan had already voiced their preference for going it alone in the ensuing assembly polls. And third, the SP hardly has any presence in these states.

Mulayam Singh Yadav’s strength lies in Uttar Pradesh which accounts for 80 Lok Sabha seats. He knows that without his support, the Congress just cannot dream of bouncing back to power in New Delhi. Irrespective of its narrow loss in the Chiraigaon assembly byelection, the SP has been going from strength to strength by default in the Gangetic plains, thanks to the performance of the Mayawati-led BSP-BJP coalition government, on the one hand, and the lacklustre activities of the UP unit of the Congress, on the other. The national leadership of the Congress is aware of all this.

What has instilled a new sense of urgency in the minds of leaders of the two parties is that the Ram card is back on the BJP’s agenda with a bang. Both the SP and the Congress have gathered through their private intelligence network that the BSP-BJP tie-up may not last till the next Lok Sabha elections. For, Mayawati might demand 60 of the 80 seats for her party to contest. And the BJP may not agree to this, more so at a time when the mandir card is expected to be in full play.

To understand the latest line of thinking in the BJP, all one needs to do is to meet state party chief Vinay Katiyar who is better known for his Bajrang Dal connection. He says his party can forsake power any day, if it can help build the Ram temple at Ayodhya. It’s a loaded statement indeed.

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