Union Minister Beni Prasad Verma, in the line of fire for his controversial remarks against Mulayam Singh Yadav, on Tuesday skipped a key meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party after he was snubbed over it.
Party General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi had on Monday remained non-committal on whether the Congress will take action against Verma while making the party's displeasure over the remarks clear by saying it has ‘taken this issue very seriously’.
A section in the Congress believes that Verma could be warming up to other parties such as the Bahujan Samaj Party ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections. No Congress leader, however, was willing to come on record when asked to comment on such a possibility.
Talking to reporters outside Parliament House on Monday, Verma had said he stood by his statement that Mulayam allegedly had ‘terrorist links’. He had also ruled out stepping down following the Samajwadi Party leader's demand, saying, "Has he made me a minister?"
Verma had stuck to his guns even as the Congress had snubbed him in an apparent bid to mollify the SP, which is supporting the government from outside. "The party is not in agreement with what he (Verma) has said. We do not approve of the statement he has given. The Congress has always said that the partymen should talk seriously. SP is supporting our government from outside," party spokesperson Rashid Alvi had said on Monday.
Dwivedi's refrain was that ‘in politics everyone should observe restraint in use of language. Mulayam is the head of the supporting party. "The meetings of CPP addressed by party President Sonia Gandhi during Parliament sessions are considered important as members of parliament are told about the challenges before the party as well its position on various issues.
The controversy involving a supporting party has come at a time when the government is facing the political challenge in the wake of United Progressive Alliance constituent Dravida Munetra Kazhagam pulling out of the alliance on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue.