With the Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh pilloried for failing to contain the Muzaffarnagar riots and mismanaging relief measures for the violence-hit population, party leader Mulayam Singh tried to reach out to Muslims on Friday by blaming the UPA government at the Centre for deferring enactment of the Communal Violence Bill in Parliament.

Mr. Singh said the Muslims favoured the Bill, but the Congress had shelved it under pressure from the BJP. The Congress, he said, has a history of bowing to pressure from communal forces.

The Uttar Pradesh government has been severely criticised for the riots and shoddy relief work, made worse by some insensitive comments by its leaders who said those at relief camps were beggars and not riot victims. This had antagonised the Muslims, the Samajwadi Party’s crucial support base.

On the prospects of a non-Congress, non-BJP government, Mr. Singh said the third alternative would get a majority in the Lok Sabha elections.

He said 17 parties had met to forge an alternative, asserting that a post-election alliance would be formed between them.

He said “in Uttar Pradesh, the electoral contest would be between Mulayam and Narendra Modi” and trained his guns on the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.

“Mr. Modi has not replied to what I said on development in Uttar Pradesh in relation to Gujarat,” Mr. Singh said.