By Mohit Dubey
Lucknow, The Congress is stunned, at the Samajwadi Party’s claims last week that it had been arm-twisted by the Congress through the CBI. This sudden turn in the Samajwadi Party’s stance comes soon after the SP bailed the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government at the centre out in parliament, during voting on the decision to allow 51 percent foreign equity in retail trade.
The Samajwadi Party clearly appears to sharpen its knives against the Congress. But the the question remains: Will it strike?
On Sunday, the party’s official spokesman Rajendra Chowdhary, also a close aide of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, issued a written statement, accusing the Congress of using the “CBI to browbeat its political opponents” into supporting it on FDI in multi-brand retail and the quota in promotions bill.
The SP spokesman’s statement that the Congress was earlier “hatching a conspiracy to trap the SP supremo in the CBI net for not extending support on the FDI and quota in promotions bill”, many say, was just an expression of anger over the Congress’s dalliance with arch rival Mayawati.
Party insiders believe that while the Netaji, as Mulayam Singh is popularly called by his supporters, was forced to play the saviour of the Manmohan Singh government, if the past is anything to go by, he might just “pull a fast one” on the UPA soon.
“See, it is so clear that the Congress and the SP have no common ground. The two co-exist because both now have compulsions that push them together. But that may not stay that way for long,” a senior SP leader told IANS, indicating that the party saw a “clear cut” anti-incumbency wave against the Congress.
A minister in Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s government said that the charges levelled by Rajendra Chowdhary of “political blackmail” by the Congress could not have been made without a nod from the party leadership.
The minister said that while the party was accommodative to the extent of helping the “Manmohan Singh government sail through its full five-year term,” if the SP’s home turf was affected, or if its Other Backward Classes vote bank was endangered, “Netaji would be happy to pull the rug from under the Congress’s feet”.
Mulayam Singh himself Saturday hinted at “growing unrest” between the two parties when in his parliamentary constituency, Mainpuri, he spoke of “reconsidering support to the UPA” if the quota in promotions bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha.
Talking to IANS later, Mulayam Singh said it was not about politics but fairness.
“There is a concerted effort to divide society and reap dividends. That is a dangerous game. We will not allow it to happen,” he said.
Mulayam Singh’s former wrestler self was evident in the muscular statements the party supremo made: “Hamara poora prayaas rahega ki is vighatankari aur vivadaspad bill ko paas na hone diya jaye (We will put all our might to ensure that this divisive and controversial bill is not passed).”
Akhilesh Yadav, on his part, Sunday said that his party was opposed to both the FDI in multi-brand retail and the quota in promotion bill. He said the opposition would be relentless, and the party would continue to oppose the quota in promotions bill tooth and nail.
But given the frequent flip-flops of the SP in its relations with the Congress, no one is willing to bet on whether the SP would snap ties with the ruling dispensation in Delhi.
Vijay Bahadur Pathak, state spokesman of the BJP, said the statement of the SP viz a viz the misuse of the CBI has only validated what its leaders have been saying all along.
“During the FDI debate in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, our party leaders had spoken of FDI vs CBI, hinting at pressure tactics by the UPA government, forcing SP and Bahujan Samaj Party leaders and other regional satraps into lending their support, threatened with facing heat from the CBI otherwise in cases of possessing assets disproportionate to known sources of income,” Pathak said.
He added, however, that there was really no telling, despite it all, whether the SP would pull out the “political oxygen” it was giving the UPA.
The state leadership of the ruling Samajwadi Party has refused to engage in discussion of its differences with the Congress.
The official line is that the matter is being deftly handled by party supremo Mulayam Singh and his brother Ram Gopal Yadav.
There are leaders who privately admit, though, that prospects for electoral gain were being squandered by the Samajwadi Party because it was playing a saviour to the United Progressive Alliance.