Lucknow(IANS): As Mamata Banerjee turned her back on UPA-II, Congress emissaries Wednesday opened fresh channels of communication with Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and BSP supremo Mayawati.
Confirming they had been contacted, a senior SP leader told IANS that while desperate efforts were on to win over both sides, Mulayam Singh was playing hardball.
According to the SP source, the issues of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail and the hike in diesel prices were likely to hurt the SP’s core vote base of farmers and traders.
Mulayam Singh flew to New Delhi Tuesday straight after a hectic day at Rampur, where he inaugurated Jauhar University, his close aide and state Urban Development Minister Azam Khan’s dream project.
Senior Congress functionaries are keen to read the mind of Mulayam Singh, who, along with Mayawati, is now seen as holding the cards to the survival of UPA-II.
The Congress dependence on Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party went up after the Trinamool Congress announced Tuesday night it was pulling out of UPA to protest the government’s economic decisions.
Mulayam Singh told IANS that the parliamentary board of the party would meet Thursday to decide on the nature of the relationship with the Congress-led government “now on”.
He also said that he found the Congress “stubborn and haughty, unable to appreciate the genuine concerns of allies and supporting parties”.
“The Congress will have to understand that such arrogance is hurting it,” he said.
Looking to the future, he added: “Ab Congress ki akal theek ho jaani chahiye.” (It’s high time the Congress learnt its lessons).
A close aide of the Samajwadi chief said Mulayam Singh was unhappy with the way in which coalition partners were being treated by the Congress.
Leaders say Mulayam Singh is worried that the Congress’s anti-incumbency factor would rub off also on the Samajwadi Party in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, should the party align closely with the central government now.
As he aims to win 50 Lok Sabha seats in 2014, the senior Yadav does not want to mess up the relations with the UPA.
At the same time, he harbours prime ministerial ambitions.
This is a matter on which Mualaym Singh has spoken plainly, to both cousin and party strongman Ram Gopal Yadav as well as Congress mandarins in touch with him.
Mayawati, on her part, has decided to “wait and watch” even as Congress leaders have “opened up to her through trusted aides Satish Chandra Mishra and Akhilesh Das,” in the words of a senior BSP leader.
The BSP source told IANS that Mayawati would extend support to the UPA on condition that the central government has no truck with the Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh.
“Behenji is very clear: the UPA will have to show that they are not doing business with the Samajwadi Party,” the leader said.
The mercurial BSP leader has declared that her party would review whether or not to continue outside support to the UPA government Oct 9 when the party’s parliamentary board meets.
As both leaders wait and watch to extract their pound of flesh, UPA-II seems headed for tougher times.