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'Scratch my back and I will scratch yours'

Sudha Passi and Rahul Kashyap | August 03, 2004 16:33 IST

Reflective of an uneasy relationship, the Samajwadi Party on Tuesday said it will not be part of any "offensive" against the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre, but expects a similar reciprocity from the Congress vis a vis the Mulayam Singh government in Uttar Pradesh.

The party says it has "problems" with the Congress leadership but for the moment it would "follow" the Left parties in providing outside support to the Manmohan Singh government.

"We will not be proactive... we will not go to the extent of pulling down the secular government of Manmohan Singh,"  Amar Singh, general secretary of the Samajwadi Party, which has 36 members in Lok Sabha, told PTI in an interview in Delhi.

Without taking the name of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, he said, "We have problems with the Congress leadership not Singh. We will make no extra effort to bring down the government."

Asked if the Congress-led government would last its full term, he said "I dont want to make predictions. (Manmohan) Singh is a thorough gentlemen and I wish and pray that he completes his tenure."

In Uttar Pradesh, Singh said his party did not expect Congress to commit 'political harakiri' (suicide) by pulling down the Samajwadi Party-led government there.

"Inspite of their hullabaloo, Congress will not commit harakiri by bringing down our government," Singh said.

Apparently referring to the fact that the Mulayam Singh government was not dependent on the 14-MLA strong Congress support for its survival, Singh said sarcastically, "I am grateful to the Congress for outside support of the large contingent in UP assembly... I hope this grand cooperation of Congress will continue."

Nonetheless daring the Congress to oppose the UP government, he said, "If they can rob me of my secular vote in UP they are welcome..."

Singh said the Congress was aware that the Samajwadi Party was responsible for bringing down the strength of BJP and restricting them to 10 seats in the recent Lok SAbha election. Anyone trying to destabilize the SP government in UP would be indirectly helping the BJP, he cautioned. "I don't think they would want to be labelled as agents of BJP."

To a question whether SP favoured early assembly elections in UP, he said, "We dont want any financial burden to be imposed on the poor people of the country and Uttar Pradesh. Mulayam Singh Yadav's government is going to last for the entire term."

Singh described the Left parties attack against the Congress-led UPA government on the FDI and oil price hike issues as only "symbolic" and that which did not threaten the UPA government.

"Let (Sitaram) Yechury (CPI-M leader) prove that they are the real watchdogs and not lapdogs," Singh said in his inimitable style skirting the issue of the SP stand on 'tainted' ministers issue also.

The tainted ministers issue, Singh pointed out, was "originally" an issue of the Leftist parties when they blocked late Madhavrao Scindia and Sharad Yadav in Parliament.

"The BJP-led NDA has only hijacked it for now," he said. "Wwe remain with the Left on this."

Similarly on the opposition boycott of Parliamentary committees, he said, the party had no intention to shun the committees on this count.

Commenting on his recent attack against the Congress in an interview to BBC, he said that he had only spoken the truth" and was not heading for any confrontation with it.

"If calling a spade a spade is confrontation then I am a confrontationist," said Singh. Congress leaders like Natwar Singh and Ahmed Patel, he added, were in touch with them after the elections but 'once the numbers were out and we were not that relevant, the connectivity vanished'.

He also accused the UPA government of behaving like a 'feudal Lord' in 'imposing' a governor on UP, and tapping phones of senior SP leaders.

Singh denied press reports that he had met former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and sought his cooperation to raise the phone tapping issue in Parliament.

"There cannot be a bigger lie than this," Singh said acknowledging that he did meet the veteran MP, who hails from Uttar Pradesh where his party is in power.

"I may have several issues to discuss with him... we may be rivals but we are not enemies," Singh said wondering why the media made so much out his meeting with Vajpayee and did not "read anything" into meetings of Congress leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad with the BJP leader.

Referring to recent remarks of Rahul Gandhi and other senior leaders on the law and order situation in UP, Singh said he would not comment on Rahul's statement.

"Commenting on Rahul gandhi would be attaching too much importance to him," he said. As for law and order, he said the problem was not restricted to only his state but to other states like Delhi, Bihar, as well as Maharashtra.

He criticised the Congress-led UPA government for meting out "step-motherly" treatment to UP, specially in its response to a special package for the state that the Mulayam Singh government has forwarded.

"The Centre's response to our package is apply, apply but no reply," he said. Singh, however, defended the induction of controversial MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya, into the UP governemnt saying: "He is not a criminal but a political victim."

"Mulayam and myself were also on the verge of becoming POTA victims like Raja Bhaiya...," he said.

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