Samajwadi Party to extend outside support to UPA (Second Lead)

July 8th, 2008 - 7:45 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 8 (IANS) The Samajwadi Party Tuesday formally declared support for the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) soon after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government was reduced to a minority following the Left’s parting of ways. But it said it would not join the cabinet. Amidst talk of a division in its ranks, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said that all its 39 Lok Sabha MPs would back both the nuclear deal and the government in case a trust vote was taken in parliament.

“The Samajwadi Party will support the nuclear deal and the government in national interest,” Mulayam Singh told a news conference after chairing the party’s parliamentary board meeting.

“There is no question of joining the government,” he added.

His comments came after the four Left parties withdrew their legislative support to the government over their differences on the India-US nuclear deal.

Though the Samajwadi Party parliamentary board meeting was attended by only 29 MPs, Mulayam Singh asserted that all 39 MPs were united in favour of the Congress-led government.

“There is no question of divisions in his party over the decision,” he added.

But the murmurs of discontent were audible.

Jayaprakash Rawat, MP from Mohanlalganj in Lucknow district who was one of those who did not attend the meeting, said: “I have heard that there are one dozen members who are not happy. We were not consulted.

“Mulayam has taken the decision on his own to support the Congress on the nuclear deal. The party has not briefed us or consulted us on the deal. I am not against Mulayam but I am against nuclear deal.”

He said the party was not united and many of the MPs were not supporting the nuclear deal. “I think they won’t stand with Samajwadi Party on the deal.”

The 10 MPs who did not attend also include Raj Babbar, Beni Prasad Verma and Atiq Ahmed, who have been suspended from the party. The others are Mohan Singh and Radhey Shyam Kori, who said they were unwell, as well as Rewati Raman Singh, Kirti Vardhan Singh, Afzal Ansari and Munawwar Hassan.

Of these, Ansari is in jail. Hassan last week joined the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

A confident Mulayam, however, said that even Muslim MPs attended Tuesday’s meeting and were in favour of the nuclear deal. “We are on and we unanimously support the nuclear deal and the government,” he declared.

Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh said that an independent MP, Baleshwar Yadav, had joined them and would vote with them.

Saleem Sherwani, MP from Badaun, said most Muslims were in favour of the nuclear deal. “It is in favour of the country. All political parties should be one (on such inssues). It is not a Hindu deal or a Muslim deal.”

Everyone, except for Hassan, would vote for the nuclear deal, he said.

Actor-turned politician Jaya Pradha said her party took a decision to support the nuclear deal after former president A. P.J. Abdul Kalam said it was good for India. “There is no one who knows more about the nuclear deal (than Kalam).”

A one-page note circulated after the three-hour meeting said: “The country’s unity, independence and sovereignty are under serious threat from communal forces. As the general elections come close, these communal groups have increased their activities to divide the country. We … will work in the interest of the country.”

It added that the party consulted nuclear scientists, defence analysts and political experts before deciding to support the nuclear deal.

The UPA government is likely to face a floor test later this month. Government sources said there could be a parliament session beginning July 21 during which Manmohan Singh would seek the confidence of the house.

The Left parties, which have 59 MPs, are expected to go to President Pratibha Patil Wednesday to present her with the letter of withdrawal of support. They also have the support of two MPs from Kerala Congress-J.

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