Wednesday, May 23, 2012 NC
Mulayam moves closer to UPA, right next to Sonia
Almost three months after Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi trashed the Samajwadi Party, even making a show of tearing its election manifesto during the UP campaign, SP chief Mulayam Singh today shared the stage with the Prime Minister and UPA chief Sonia Gandhi as they released the UPA’s report card.
SP’s rival Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati skipped the dinner hosted by Manmohan Singh despite having been invited.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal escorted Mulayam to the dais where only UPA constituents got to sit last year. Later, Sonia and Rahul sat with Mulayam with leaders of other UPA constituents TR Baalu (DMK), Saugata Roy (TMC), Omar Abdullah (National Conference). In fact, Sonia was seen moving from one table to sit next to Mulayam.
The pride of place to Mulayam today indicated a growing bonhomie between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party after Rahul Gandhi had taken personal potshots at Mulayam and Akhilesh in his rallies. There are other incidences that bolster this growing closeness and coordination:
* Yesterday, SP Rajya Sabha member Naresh Agarwal offered to move the motion for sending the Lokpal Bill to the Select Committee of the Upper House. Agarwal’s motion had exactly the same names of MPs for the committee as the names in the motion moved by the government after the Opposition BJP, CPM and BSP came down against the SP for acting as a “friendly opposition”.
* Yesterday again, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee assured Mulayam’s cousin and Rajya Sabha MP Ram Gopal Yadav to bail out over two dozen district cooperative banks in Uttar Pradesh that are on the brink of closure after RBI notices.
* UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has asked the revenue department to allot land for the proposed AIIMS in Rae Bareli, Sonia’s constituency.
* Last week, Akhilesh took a special review of 28 pending projects in Rae Bareli and Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Nagar (Amethi) districts, both of which are Lok Sabha constituencies of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi respectively, and asked officials to give necessary clearances as soon as possible.
* C Rangarajan, Chairman of Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, called on Akhilesh Yadav in Lucknow within days of his taking over as the chief minister in March to hold discussions on UP’s economy.
* A delegation of SP leaders met the Prime Minister early this month requesting speedy disbursal of pending Central assistance to the tune of Rs 1 lakh crore to Uttar Pradesh. The delegation expressed satisfaction after its meeting with the Prime Minister.
Some in the Congress hope that the SP’s movement towards the party could help give the UPA elbow room for some of the “difficult decisions” the Prime Minister referred to today: decisions on issues where ally Mamata Banerjee’s opposition is clear and unbending. These include cut in petroleum subsidy and FDI in multi-brand retail. They point out how it was Mulayam Singh Yadav who had bailed out UPA 1 on the Indo-US nuclear deal in 2008 when the Left had walked out.
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