Pawar, Mulayam meet to discuss possible alliance

February 15th, 2009 - 8:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh met here Sunday for a possible tie-up in general elections.

The meeting comes amid tensions between the Samajwadi Party and the Congress, which heads the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), over seat sharing in Uttar Pradesh.

Giving a hint of their bonhomie, Amar Singh told reporters later that Pawar and Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav would not oppose each other if they got a chance to become the prime minister.

“If Sharad Pawar or Mulayam Singh Yadav get the chance (to be prime minister), neither will oppose the other,” he said.

He said his party had no problems with Manmohan Singh leading the UPA government for a second term but added that if the numbers did not add up, NCP and the Samajwadi Party would support one another for the top job.

NCP general secretary Deviprasad Tripathi told IANS: “If you ask me if my leader has the potential to be the prime minister, I will not deny it.”

Asked about Sunday’s meeting, he said: “We wish to strengthen the UPA. What’s wrong if two of its constituents meet for this? We cannot forget that the Samajwadi Party supported the government at a crucial juncture.”

His reference was to the crucial legislative support the Samajwadi Party extended to the Manmohan Singh government after it lost the support of the Left over the India-US nuclear deal.

Tripathi said the NCP wanted the Samajwadi Party to join the Congress-NCP coalition in Maharashtra.

“There is a sizeable Muslim population in areas of Greater Mumbai as well as other parts of Maharashtra. If all three of us go together, it would help the UPA,” he said.

The NCP and the Samajwadi Party are known to be unhappy over the Congress decision to have only state-specific alliances with regional parties for the Lok Sabha elections, not a national level arrangement.

“We ran the government as UPA and now the Congress wants to contest on its own. We believe that all of us should fight as UPA,” Tripathi said.

The Samajwadi Party’s talks with the Congress for a pre-poll alliance in Uttar Pradesh have run into trouble over the number of seats each of them wants to contest.

The Congress is also worried over the Samajwadi Party’s friendship with former Bharatiya Janata Party leader Kalyan Singh, who was the Uttar Pradesh chief minister when the Babri mosque was razed in 1992.

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