Left approaches BSP, Rahul to meet Amar Singh (Roundup)

July 13th, 2008 - 6:10 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bahujan Samaj Party

New Delhi/Kolkata, July 13 (IANS) The realignment of political forces over the India-US nuclear deal continued Sunday with Marxist leader Prakash Karat calling for “cooperation” with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) after meeting its chief Mayawati as Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi prepared to meet his Samajwadi Party counterpart Amar Singh to cement ties between the two parties. A day prior to the start of a nationwide campaign by the Left against the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Karat called on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati here and said that both parties would vote against the nuclear deal in parliament.

Karat’s surprise meeting with Mayawati, who took power in Uttar Pradesh in May last year, marks a formal end to decades of ties the CPI-M has had with BSP’s sworn enemy, the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh. As the Samajwadi Party came to the rescue of the Congress over the nuclear deal, Mayawati denounced it.

In a statement issued after the meeting, the CPI-M said: “Karat appreciated the stand taken by Mayawati on the nuclear deal. He stressed that since the deal is against the country’s interests, both parties should cooperate to fight against the nuclear deal with America.

“Mayawati reiterated her opposition to the deal. It was decided that there should be cooperation to stop the deal and the fight against the UPA government in this regard.”

BSP sources said their party was yet to take a decision whether or not to participate in the Left’s campaign against the UPA government on the nuclear deal.

“However, it is clear there is basic understanding between the Left and BSP on this issue,” a senior BSP leader told IANS in Lucknow. “The understanding is only on the nuclear deal. But it could extend to other issues.”

BSP sources said that Sunday’s meeting was an attempt by the BSP to ensure that it doesn’t remain isolated on the national political scene, particularly at a time when the Samajwadi Party has begun to back Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s UPA government.

The BSP is already facing the heat. Mayawati faces trial in a case of amassing disproportionate assets the central bureau of investigation (CBI) is investigating.

Samajwadi Party’s Amar Singh Sunday indicated that his party would continue to target Mayawati with a newfound confidence and challenged Mayawati to come clean. But he maintained he had no role in the CBI proceeding further in this case last week.

In what is seen as an indication of the importance given to the Samajwadi Party by the Congress, Rahul Gandhi is set to meet Amar Singh Tuesday. This would be their first meeting after the Samajwadi Party pledged support to the ruling combine in the current political crisis, informed sources said.

The meet follows a telephone conversation the two had last week to discuss the emerging political situation and its repercussions on Uttar Pradesh.

The two leaders would discuss more of Uttar Pradesh than national affairs at the meeting, the sources, speaking on condition of strict anonymity, told IANS.

Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee met CPI-M veteran Jyoti Basu Sunday in Kolkata and told him why, in the view of the Congress, the Left-UPA coalition broke up.

Mukherjee told reporters after a 20-minute meeting with Basu at the latter’s residence: “We consider Basu and (former CPI-M general secretary Harkishan Singh) Surjeet the architects of the alliance. As UPA’s leader in the Lok Sabha, I considered it my responsibility to meet Basu and explain to him why the alliance broke down.”

Mukherjee said when he met Basu after becoming the UPA’s leader in the Lok Sabha, the latter told him to ensure that the alliance lasted a full five-year term.

“Whether the government lasts or not will be decided by the trust vote (in parliament). But as the alliance has crumbled, it is my duty to brief (Basu),” he said.

The CPI-M and its three allied parties in the Left took back their legislative support to the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the India-US nuclear deal. A trust vote is due in parliament July 11.

In other developments, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, amid calls that he resign after the Left took back support to the UPA government, met Basu in Kolkata but did not speak to jouranlists. And CPI-M politburo member Sitaram Yechury told a television channel that there was a “possibility” of the Left and Congress coming together again after another election.

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