Ahead of the United Progressive Alliance meeting in the evening, the Congress and Samajwadi Party talks gained momentum raising the possibility of Mulayam Singh backing the official candidate of the ruling alliance.

Two days ago the SP struck an alliance with Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee in declaring their own candidates, but striking a different posture on Friday, Mr. Singh’s cousin and party general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav told journalists that his party was not interested in pulling down the government and imposing mid-term polls on the country. ``We do not want to impose a financial burden on people and the ex-chequer.’’

Sources said Mr. Yadav and Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Yadav have had a series of discussions with Congress leaders on supporting a United Progressive Alliance candidate. The UPA, it is expected, will announce its official candidate by evening. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance also met in the morning to finalise its strategy.

Earlier, the SP had publicly criticised the Congress for ignoring them on the crucial issue and taking their support for granted.

On Thursday, Mr. Mulayam Singh had distanced himself from Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s assertion that former President A.P.J Abdul Kalam was ``their’’ candidate. As is known by now, Mr. Singh did not join Ms. Banerjee when she made the declaration after a 30-minute meeting with him at his residence.

There was talk of Mr. Mulayam Singh and Ms. Banerjee issuing a joint appeal to all parties to support Dr. Kalam, but Mr. Yadav was evasive about endorsing Dr. Kalam as their preferred candidate. On being asked he said, ``in several states `ours’ is used to indicate `my’.’’

Mr. Mulayam Singh is understood to have told Ms. Banerjee that any decision on a single name had to be endorsed by other SP leaders.

Meanwhile, Mr. Aggarwal and Mr. Ram Gopal Yadav met Mr. Mulayam Singh Friday morning amid indications that the SP chief could leave for Agra on Friday.

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