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Why Ajit Singh decided to join the Mayawati camp

Vicky Nanjappa | July 21, 2008 11:28 IST

The United Progressive Alliance thought that it had netted Rashtriya Lok Dal Chief, Ajit Singh when it renamed Lucknow's Amausi airport after former Prime Minister Ajit Singh's father, Chaudhary Charan Singh. Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal has three MPs in the current Lok Sabha.

Coverage: An Alliance in Crisis

However this was not enough of an enticement for the RLD leader who went ahead and declared on Sunday that he would be voting against the UPA on July 22. The decision came following a meeting with BSP chief and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mayawati on Sunday.

On record, Singh said that the ideologies of both the parties match and he thought it would be best to stay away from the Congress as Samajwadi Party had joined hands with the latter. He also said that his views on the nuclear deal were identical compared to the BSP and the rest of the parties -- under the United National Progressive Alliance, UNPA, umbrella -- which had joined hands together to fight both the BJP and the Congress.

All eyes on independent MPs

The question now is whether Singh decided to vote against the UPA only because of an ideological difference with the Congress and the Samajwadi Party. Sources close to Singh told that the RLD leader had first held a meeting with some leaders of the UPA. Since his earlier demand of renaming the Lucknow airport after his father had already been met, he had sought a cabinet berth in the UPA government.

Speaker episode: Tip of CPI-M iceberg

Singh had specifically asked for the Food Ministry for himself. However the UPA was not ready to accept this demand and hence the talks ended, following which he decided to tap the doors of the rest of the parties which were contemplating the formation of a third front.

Ajit Singh who had by Sunday afternoon started seeing Mayawati as a potential candidate for the prime ministerial berth decided that it would be best to ally with her as he would then stand a chance to head the Food Ministry.

UPA will definitely lose trust vote: BJP

Sources say that the approach was three pronged -- a cabinet berth for himself, two ministries in the UP government and reservation for Jats � a politically strong caste in northern India. RLD's state party leader, Bhopal Singh told the news that they had been getting from party circles was that Mayawati had agreed to fulfill all these demands put forth by their leader. He however added that they had not been officially told about the details of the meeting.

Watch out for a nail biting finish!

RLD MP, Munshiram remained non-committal on the demands made by his leader with Mayawati. He said they would join Mayawati as she would best safeguard RLD's interests. The interest of the party and their people was their primary concern and all these issues would be addressed, he added.

Singh also had no problems with Mayawati as the next prime minister of the country. He felt that she is a capable leader and should be given a chance.

Sources told that Singh expected the UNPA to stake a claim to form the government immediately after toppling the UPA government. However he was clearly told that the formation of a government was not their main intention and Mayawati was clearly told by CPI (M) Politburo chief Prakash Karat that their first priority should be to topple the UPA.

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