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Samajwadi Party declares support to UPA

Anita Joshua

— Photo: S. Subramanium

SUPPORT FOR DEAL: Samajwadi Party leaders Mulayam Singh and Amar Singh at a media briefing in New Delhi on Tuesday.

NEW DELHI: The Samajwadi Party on Tuesday pledged its support to the government and said it would issue a whip to ensure that all its 39 members in the Lok Sabha vote for it when it takes a floor test.

Briefing the media here after the meeting of the SP Parliamentary Board, party leader Mulayam Singh ruled out joining the government.

Mr. Mulayam Singh claimed there was unanimous support within his party for the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal.

Mr. Mulayam Singh and Mr. Amar Singh, however, were unwilling to give details about the number of members who stayed away.

They claimed that all had put their signatures to the resolution.

With the Samajwadi Party’s support for the deal being described as “anti-Muslim” by the Bahujan Samaj Party, Mr. Mulayam Singh made it a point to have himself flanked by most of his Muslim MPs at the press conference to drive home the message that the minority community was with him in this decision.

Mr. Mulayam Singh and Mr. Amar Singh claimed that the minority community had welcomed the decision to strengthen the government’s hands against communal forces.

According to Mr. Amar Singh, forces trying to communalise the deal and claiming that the Muslims were against it were questioning the integrity of the minority community. Stating that the deal was in the national interest, he added: “Muslims are Indians first and they will support anything that is good for India.”

As to whether the Samajwadi Party would join the government or bid for the Speaker’s post, Mr. Mulayam Singh said: “No.”

Hopeful that the Left parties would not force a vote and thereby strengthen communal forces, he said there was no need to change the Speaker.

Prominent absentees at the meeting were Mohan Singh and Rewati Raman Singh. Both were unwell and had sent in letters expressing inability to be present. As for Ateeq Ahmed, Beni Prasad Verma and Raj Babbar – all three Lok Sabha members who had raised a banner of revolt against the leadership earlier but officially remain SP MPs – the official line was that they were anyway pro-Congress and vote for the government.

Amar Singh meets Sonia

Later in the day, Mr. Amar Singh met Congress president Sonia Gandhi and pledged the party’s support. Though the SP has 39 members in the Lok Sabha, Mr. Amar Singh committed the vote of 37 MPs as two of its MPs have openly voiced differences with the leadership.

He said the party would give its letter of support to President Pratibha Patil to remove any misgivings.

PTI reports:

Mr. Amar Singh claimed the SP had the support of seven BSP MPs on the nuclear deal issue.

He, however, did not name them.

“With the nuclear deal receiving the backing of all the important centres of Islamic learning like Bareli, Saharanpur, and Bahraich, the BSP is jittery,” Mr. Singh said.

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