Mulayam holds UPA to ransom

SP leader wants Beni Prasad sacked

Mulayam holds UPA to ransom

With the DMK walking out, the UPA government has found itself in deep water after its key partner, Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, pressed for the resignation of his bete noire Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma.

The Samajwadi Party’s support is crucial for the survival of the government after the DMK withdrew support to the ruling coalition.

The Samajwadi Party forced repeated adjournments in both Houses over Verma’s remarks against Yadav, who found support from several quarters, including Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj of the BJP.

Swaraj not only demanded Verma’s resignation but also wanted the matter referred to the privileges committee. “Verma had tarnished the image of the SP chief who is a respected leader of the House,” Swaraj remarked. Verma, a backward class leader from Uttar Pradesh, had claimed that Yadav had links with terrorists and took “commission” for the SP’s outside support to the UPA government.

On a day when Yadav refused to accept the “regret” expressed by Verma, Congress president Sonia Gandhi was seen walking the extra mile to placate the SP supremo. She was seen pleading with Yadav in the Lok Sabha. Although what transpired between them was not made official, SP members said Gandhi requested Yadav not to press for Verma’s resignation.

Following DMK’s exit from the UPA coalition, the government is dependent on the support of the SP and the Bahujan Samaj Party, besides Rashtriya Janata Dal and Janata Dal(S) for survival.Yadav seemed to have changed tack and toughened his stance on the issue hours after the DMK called it quits. However, party sources said he will take a final decision on Verma on Thursday.

“It is his way of making the Congress weak despite supporting it,” said an MP from Uttar Pradesh.

Wednesday was a day of odd developments. Yadav’s brother, Ramgopal Yadav, praised the BJP, the NDA government and the prime ministership of A B Vajpayee. He also criticised the Congress over the party’s way of treating its allies.

Besides, Lalu Prasad Yadav of the RJD supported Yadav, even as Sharad Yadav of the opposition JD(U) held one-on-one talks with Ahmed Patel, Gandhi’s political secretary.

The SP chief, known to be a tough bargainer, raised a few eyebrows as he met NCP chief and Union minister Sharad Pawar. They are said to have discussed the present political situation as well as the possibility of forming a coalition of regional parties in future.

While the government appeared to be susceptible to pulls and pressures, Union ministers P Chidamabram and Kamal Nath led the government’s spirited defence. They claimed that there was no threat to the government’s stability.

Mayawati’s BSP, which on Tuesday said it will continue to support the government, remained silent. “We are watching everything,” a BSP member told Deccan Herald.
Meanwhile, UPA renegade Mamata Banerjee supported the UPA government over the proposed parliamentary resolution on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue. ­

Lanka fallout

* DMK ministers submit resignation
* Anti-Lanka protests in TN intensify
* India to move amendments to US-sponsored resolution on Lanka
* Too late to alter US note on Lanka, rues DMK
* PIL seeks CBI probe into India’s role in Sri Lankan Tamils’ killings
* TMC backs Centre on draft UNHRC resolution

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