Advani did meet Mulayam to trip Sonia

March 22nd, 2008 - 12:01 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi
By Faraz Ahmad
New Delhi, March 22 (IANS) Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani and Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav did meet secretly in 1999 to prevent Congress president Sonia Gandhi from becoming prime minister, sources close to Yadav and former defence minister George Fernandes have confirmed. Advani caused a sensation by revealing in his book, “My Country, My Life”, released here Wednesday, that he and Mulayam Singh Yadav - otherwise supposedly sworn political foes - met soon after the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government lost parliamentary majority and Gandhi tried to cobble a new coalition.

Advani disclosed that Fernandes organised his (Advani’s) meeting with Yadav at the Sujan Singh Park residence of Samata Party chief Jaya Jaitley, a confidante of Fernandes, on the night of April 20-21, 1999. The BJP veteran said Jaitley drove him in her car to the venue.

One of those who knew about the meeting told IANS: “Every bit of Advani’s description of the meeting with Mulayam Singh Yadav is a faithful account of the events” that unfolded soon after the Vajpayee government collapsed.

According to another source, Samajwadi Party MP Mohan Singh did the spadework for the meeting. But Mohan Singh, speaking to IANS, denied he was any way linked to the Advani-Mulayam talks.

Mohan Singh, a long-time associate of Fernandes, told IANS: “I have no idea about all this. I am not aware of any such meeting.”

As the former defence minister, Yadav lived opposite Fernandes’ 3, Krishna Menon Marg bungalow.

The Advani-revealed drama took place after the Vajpayee-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government lost parliamentary majority by a single vote after the AIADMK joined forces with the Congress and its allies.

Thereafter, all non-NDA parties got together to work out a consensus to forge a new government.

With his aversion for the Congress known, Yadav called a meeting of non-Congress and non-NDA leaders at his residence and suggested that then West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu be prime minister. But Basu and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) rejected the idea.

Gandhi went in the meanwhile to President K.R. Narayanan and staked claim to forming a new government, assuming that all those groups that had voted against the Vajpayee government would back her.

That was when Yadav gave Narayanan a letter saying his party would not support a government led by Gandhi. Eventually, fresh elections took place and the Vajpayee-led NDA returned to power with more seats.

The sources that spoke to IANS said that before Fernandes telephoned Advani to arrange a meeting with Yadav, Fernandes himself had two or three meetings with Yadav.

One source told IANS: “I don’t know where they met. But I know they met.”

Despite repeated attempts, IANS could not reach Fernandes or Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh.

However, a Fernandes aide said that Advani’s disclosures, amid speculation that the Congress and the Samajwadi Party may be preparing to bury their long-time rivalry, would not have any impact on political developments.

The source said: “Surely Sonia Gandhi knew about the meeting all along. That was one of the reasons for the bitterness between Sonia and Mulayam. If they are coming close today, it is because of their political compulsions.”

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