SP to keep UPA afloat, heat on Congress is on (Roundup)

New Delhi, March 29 (IANS) The Congress heaved a sigh of relief after Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Mulayam Singh Yadav said Friday that he won’t withdraw support to the Congress-led UPA government for now.

But the heat was on the Congress with estranged ally Trinamool Congress demanding the immediate resignation of the “minority” United Progressive Alliance government.
Even as he gave a fresh breather to the Congress, Mulayam Singh predicted an early Lok Sabha election — in November this year — and claimed that a Third Front government would then take office in New Delhi.
The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said early general elections were inevitable given the political uncertainty ever since the DMK quit the UPA over the Sri Lanka issue.
After earlier remarks that signalled that he may ditch the UPA, which the SP backs from the outside, Mulayam Singh insisted Friday that the Congress was still a friend.
“There is no strained relationship with the Congress. There is no talk of withdrawal of support (to the UPA) even within our party,” Yadav told CNN-IBN news channel.
“Elections will happen this year itself, maybe in November,” he added.
Mulayam Singh’s placatory statement came after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Thursday that the UPA could be unstable post the DMK’s exit but added that his government would last a full five years.
In Kolkata, the Trinamool hit out at the Congress.
“For six months Trinamool has been clearly stating that the UPA is a minority government and has no moral right to continue,” general secretary Mukul Roy said. “We want the government to resign immediately.”
The BJP gloated over the developments.
“The government will not last its full term and and mid-term elections seem inevitable,” BJP leader Balbir Punj said.
“Irrespective of what Manmohan Singh says, there is an atmosphere of instability around the government.”
But BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad ruled out the chances of a Third Front forming a government after the next parliamentary election.
“Third Front is a past for Indian politics. It has neither relevance for present nor promise for future,” he said.
He also took a jibe at Mulayam Singh, saying the SP must withdraw support to the government if it had so many complaints.
On his part, Mulayam Singh, whose praise of BJP veteran L.K. Advani sparked speculation in political circles, denied Friday that he was moving closer to the BJP.
He also denied that he nursed prime ministerial ambitions.
Not wanting to take chances, the Congress Friday reached out to the SP, saying the concerns of the allies and supporting parties can be addressed.
In Lucknow, over cups of steaming coffee and idlis, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav talked business.
But one informed source told IANS that the two discussed “everything but politics”.
“The finance minister was very reassuring on our demands and underlined that the union government was committed to development of the state,” said a senior Uttar Pradesh official.
In Chennai, DMK president M. Karunanidhi, having walked out of the Congress-led UPA, reiterated Friday that his party would no more keep the ruling coalition afloat.
The DMK divorced the Congress after accusing the Indian government of not doing enough against Sri Lanka, which it says killed Tamils in large numbers in the war against the Tamil Tigers.
In New Delhi, Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi reiterated that the UPA government was safe.
“Our government is very stable,” Alvi told IANS. He added that the next Lok Sabha election would be held “on time” — in 2014.