After the DMK pull out, the Samajwadi Party, a key outside supporter,on Wednesday kept the UPA Government on tenterhooks by demanding the resignation of Union Minister Beni Prasad Verma for his controversial remarks against SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Not happy with Mr. Verma just expressing regret for his remarks, Mr. Yadav met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and later had an interaction with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, who was seen talking to him with folded hands in the Lok Sabha after the House had adjourned.
A grim-looking Mr. Yadav said he has convened a meeting of SP MPs on Thursday at 9 a.m. “We will hear their views and then decide,” he told reporters while leaving Parliament on being asked his party’s stand after Mr. Verma’s regret. The SP has 22 MPs in the Lok Sabha.
SP has said it is not satisfied with Mr. Verma’s “regret” and wants an unconditional apology from the Minister, who was once close to Mr. Yadav. “There is a difference between regret and apology,” SP leader Shailendra Kumar said after Mr. Yadav met the Prime Minister.
Meeting with Pawar
Even as Congress leaders made desperate attempts to placate Mr. Yadav, the SP chief met NCP leader Sharad Pawar, fuelling speculation of a political realignment at a time when the buzz of mid-term poll gains ground.
Both the leaders, however, played down the meeting saying they had only discussed modalities of a programme they are to attend together on March 24.
The meeting of the two leaders comes in the backdrop of the SP demanding Mr. Verma’s resignation and the DMK ruling out reconsideration of its stand on withdrawing support to the Government.
A day after withdrawing its support, the five DMK Ministers in the Union Cabinet today tendered their resignations to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
DMK is second party to leave the UPA. Last year, the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress had quit the UPA on the issue of FDI in multi-brand retail.
While NCP is a key constituent of the UPA, SP extends outside support to the Government. These developments have come at a time when government said the crisis has blown over and “the matter is closed“.
Between adjournments in the Lok Sabha, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde met Yadav separately and are understood to have conveyed to him that the Congress strongly disapproved of Mr. Verma’s remarks.
With the DMK pullout, the strength of the UPA in the Lok Sabha has been reduced to 224 but it enjoyed the support of 281 MPs that included those of parties supporting from outside. Besides SP, BSP with 21 Lok Sabha MPs is among the crucial outside supporters totalling 57.
The Lok Sabha has 539 MPs at present as four seats are vacant. The half-way mark is 270.
In the Lok Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj said Mr. Verma had tarnished the image of the SP chief who was “a respected leader of the House. He should either prove his charges or apologise.”
Mr. Verma had alleged that Mr. Yadav had links with terrorists, triggering vehement protests from the SP.
Ms. Swaraj said after making such “disparaging remarks,” Mr. Verma had “no right to continue in office.” She said the BJP and SP may have political differences, but “this is a matter of privilege of the House.”
Ms. Gandhi, who was present in the House and was watching the new bonhomie between SP and BJP, walked up to Mr. Yadav soon after the Lok Sabha was adjourned around noon. Though she was not audible to reporters in the press gallery, Ms. Gandhi was seen talking to Mr. Yadav with folded hands.
Earlier, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath had said that the “matter is closed” after he had expressed regret in the Lok Sabha for Mr. Verma’s remarks.
The Congress had expressed displeasure over Mr. Verma’s remarks saying it had “taken this issue very seriously“.
The SP chief’s son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said “it is true that there is upheaval at the Centre and counting of numbers has started to know whether the Government would survive or not.”
“As far as support to the UPA is concerned, Netaji (Mulayam) will take the decision. Our entire central leadership is in Delhi and Lok Sabha is underway. Any decision would be taken in the Lok Sabha and Netaji will finally decide,” he said.
The SP chief’s son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said, “it is true that there is upheaval at the Centre and counting of numbers has started to know whether the government would survive or not“.
“As far as support to the UPA is concerned, Netaji (Mulayam) will take the decision. Our entire central leadership is in Delhi and Lok Sabha is underway. Any decision would be taken in Lok Sabha and Netaji will finally decide,” he said.