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Mandal calculation evident in RJD-SP game plan

K. Balchand

Photo: R.V. Moorthy

complimenting THE LEADER:United Progressive Alliance chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi being greeted by party activists for her initiative in the passage of the Women's Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha, at her residence in New Delhi on Wednesday. —

NEW DELHI: While continuing with their strategy of “obstruction,”the Yadav troika of Lalu Prasad, Mulayam Singh and Sharad Yadav is seeking to take its battle against the Women's Reservation Bill into the enemy camp by playing on the nerves of the supporters of the Bill and working to get more numbers on its side. The idea, it seems, is to revive a “Mandal-like movement” by projecting the Bill as anti-OBC and anti-Muslim.

Continuing with their new found bonhomie and joint strategy to block the Bill in the Lok Sabha, the RJD and the SP on Wednesday held out the threat of calling on the President to submit their letters of withdrawal of support to the UPA government. However, no invite came from the President, and RJD vice-President Raghuvansh Prasad Singh told reporters that the party was hoping to get an audience with Pratibha Patil on Thursday. Once this happens, Mr. Prasad plans to accompany his SP counterpart Mulayam Singh to the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

SP Members of Parliament were closeted in a meeting with their chief on Wednesday. Mr. Mulayam Singh's son Akhilesh Yadav, MP, emerging midway through the meeting, told reporters that since his party was working in tandem with Mr. Prasad, all actions had to be in unison, and talked of joint withdrawal of support.

Like his RJD and SP counterparts, JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav too denied any move to sponsor a no-confidence motion against the Manmohan Singh government, underscoring that they lacked the necessary numbers for the purpose. So, while creating a ruckus in the Lower House, they decided to work on the numbers, cobbling together as many MPs possible with an eye to eat into the BJP and UPA camps. They drew first blood on Wednesday when they won over the Shiv Sena, which has 11 members in the Lok Sabha. Shiv Sena leader Anant Geete not only joined the agitating members in the well of the House but later told reporters that the party, which had voted for the Bill in the Upper House, had reconsidered its stand on the issue.

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