Friday, May 30, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
NEW DELHI, MAY 29. Almost a year after the break-up of the Peoples' Front, a fresh effort was made today by Opposition parties in Uttar Pradesh to regroup with the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal breaking bread together and talking about providing a viable alternative to the BSP-BJP State Government.
Despite hectic parleys through the day, leaders of all the three parties kept their plans a closely-guarded secret insisting that a clearer picture would emerge after the RLD office-bearers met in Lucknow on Friday and decided whether or not to withdraw support to the Mayawati Government. Though they did not say as much, there were strong indications that the RLD would pull out of the ruling coalition in Uttar Pradesh.
As for the numbers, given that even with the support of Kalyan Singh's Rashtriya Kranti Dal (RKD) and a few Independents, this coalition-in-the-making would remain short of at least half-a-dozen MLAs, the SP general secretary, Amar Singh, and the RLD president, Ajit Singh, said that "things will fall into place as the situation evolves" while denying any attempt to topple the Mayawati Government.
"A new political equation is being forged in Uttar Pradesh, and it will have repercussions beyond the State," Mr. Ajit Singh said adding that there was unanimity among all concerned about the need to provide an alternative to the `jungle-raj' of the BSP-BJP. "The Mayawati Government will fall under its own weight,'' Mr. Ajit Singh said conceding that political compulsions were bringing the Opposition parties together.
For the moment, the focus is on narrowing the differences these parties have with each other. In the air since Mr. Ajit Singh resigned from the Vajpayee Cabinet and pulled out his Ministers from the Mayawati Cabinet last weekend, the exercise gained momentum this morning after the SP leader, Mulayam Singh Yadav, met the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi.
Accompanied by Mr. Amar Singh, Mr. Yadav was closetted with Ms. Gandhi and senior Congressmen, Manmohan Singh and Ahmad Patel, for half-an-hour at 10 Janpath. Earlier in the day, the two SP leaders had met Mr. Ajit Singh at Kisan Ghat where the death anniversary of his father, Charan Singh, was being observed.
The morning meeting at 10 Janpath was followed by a luncheon, which was attended by the two SP leaders, Mr. Ajit Singh, Mr. Patel and the AICC general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh, Naval Kishore Sharma. Though the effort to forge an alliance seemingly picked up only today, Ms. Gandhi had met Mr. Ajit Singh and Mr. Amar Singh separately over the past couple of days, paving the way for the day's turn of events.
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