Gandhi blasts BSP, but Mulayam cool to Congress

March 31st, 2008 - 9:44 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

Kanpur/Kochi, March 31 (IANS) Congress president Sonia Gandhi Monday launched her sharpest attack on Uttar Pradesh’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Chief Minister Mayawati amid speculation that her party and the Samajawdai Party were moving closer. Calling the less than a year old BSP government in Uttar Pradesh “corrupt”, Sonia Gandhi said her son and MP Rahul Gandhi was ready to go to jail as part of a crusade against the Mayawati dispensation.

“The Congress should start an agitation against the state government and (its leaders should) be prepared to go to jail if required. If need be, Rahulji will go to jail with you,” the Congress leader told the concluding session of the two-day Uttar Pradesh Congress.

A furious Mayawati hit back calling Rahul Gandhi’s attempts to woo the Dalits, the BSP’s most solid vote bank, as a “gimmick” but did not respond to Sonia Gandhi’s corruption charge. And she declared that she did not care if the Congress and the Samajwadi Party came together in Uttar Pradesh.

In far away Kerala, Samajwadi Party leader and former chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav played it safe.

“The Congress is not our enemy. (But) right now we have no plans for any alliance with the Congress,” he told reporters in Kochi. “Our main concern is to strengthen the United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA).”

Gandhi’s comments and the remarks of Mayawati and Yadav came amid growing signs that the Congress was hoping to shed its years of antipathy to the Samajwadi Party to take on the BSP, which now rules Uttar Pradesh on its own.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) promptly made fun of the Samajwadi Party, accusing it staging a “political comedy”, but made no comment about Mayawati or the BSP.

“The Samajwadi Party is now having cocktail with the Congress and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is the bartender,” said BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad.

He was referring to a land scam in Noida, in Uttar Pradesh, which has landed Yadav in a spot.

Mayawati said Monday: “Rahul Gandhi is using the Dalit card as a gimmick. It is an empty gesture.”

The Congress is desperately trying to wean away Dalits from the BSP. Rahul Gandhi has been making special efforts in this direction. He spent a night in a Dalit household in Amethi two months ago.

In March, he visited Etawah’s Aminabad area where six members of a Dalit family were killed by bandits.

Speaking ahead of his mother, Rahul Gandhi said Monday: “In Etawah, Dalits told me that (former prime minister) Indira Gandhi used to think about them, (BSP leader) Kanshi Ram used to think about them but today they have been betrayed. There is no one to look after their interests.”

Sonia Gandhi was unsparing of the BSP government: “The government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has given millions and millions of rupees as funds to the Uttar Pradesh government but not enough has been done for the people. It is time to ask the government to give an account of where this money was spent.”

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