To stave off poaching, Samajwadi Party MPs camp in Delhi

July 18th, 2008 - 7:50 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bahujan Samaj Party

New Delhi, July 18 (IANS) Fearing its MPs could be poached by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati ahead of the July 22 trust vote, the Samajwadi Party leadership is taking extra care to keep its flock together and has most of its MPs camping in the national capital. Party sources said some MPs had expressed concern that Mayawati, who is the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief, could slap criminal cases against them if they stayed in Uttar Pradesh in order to prevent them from going to New Delhi to vote in favour of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

In fact, so much was the fear that Uttarakhand MP from Haridwar, Rajendra Kumar Badi, came to attend the party’s parliamentary board meeting in New Delhi via Karnal. He told the assembled group that he feared that he could be sent behind the bars on flimsy grounds, party sources said.

The party leadership is also apprehensive that Mayawati could wean away some MPs by offering them “incentives”, the sources said.

Samajwadi Party sources said of the party’s 39 MPs, they are sure that 35 are committed and would abide by the party whip last week to vote for the UPA.

A party leader maintained that though the MPs were camping in Delhi it didn’t mean that they were hiding. “We are not hiding. We all have our own homes here in Delhi,” a party MP told IANS.

Only 30 of the 39 MPs attended the crucial parliamentary board meeting of the Samajwadi Party, triggering speculation about the numbers it has. However, party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav said he has “letters of support from 35 MPs”.

Those who didn’t attend the party meeting included the suspended MPs Beni Prasad Verma, Raj Babbar and Atiq Ahmed, and Afzal Ansari and Munawwar Hassan.

While Ansari is in jail, Hassan has joined the BSP. Ansari is reportedly being wooed by the BSP.

Another MP who did not attend the meeting was Saleem Iqbal Shervani, who had gone to attend a wedding. Yet another MP could not come as he missed his train, sources said.

Hassan claimed before reporters in Lucknow: “I was offered Rs.25 crore (Rs.250 million) for the trust vote. The person wanted me to be loyal to the Samajwadi Party and vote for the Manmohan Singh government.”

In another important development, party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and general secretary Amar Singh went to meet Jama Masjid chief cleric. The move was taken as the party feared there could be a Muslim backlash for supporting the contentious India-US nuclear deal.

As the nuclear deal has been dubbed as “anti-Muslim”, the party needed an assurance from the Muslim cleric, who said that the deal was in favour of India and not against any community.

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