“Unconditional support” is seen as a step towards U.P. realignment

With the Samajwadi Party joining the Rashtriya Lok Dal in offering “unconditional support” to the Congress, Satish Sharma, a Gandhi family loyalist, filed his papers for the Rajya Sabha elections from Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday.

In what is being seen as the first step towards a possible realignment of forces in the State, the SP deputed its parliamentary wing leader Ram Gopal Yadav and chief whip in the Vidhan Sabha Ambika Chaudhary, and the RLD sent its State president Ram Asrey Verma to attend the nomination proceedings in the Central Hall of the Assembly here.

Some Independent MLAs, including Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiyya of Kunda, were also present.

The Congress reciprocated the gesture, its legislature wing leader Pramod Tiwari accompanying Rasheed Masood and Mohan Singh of the SP to file their nominations.

The RLD is not contesting.

Mr. Tiwari said the decision of the SP and the RLD to back the Congress was conveyed to him on the phone by their presidents Mulayam Singh and Ajit Singh.

Four Independent MLAs were also present when Captain Sharma filed his papers.

Mr. Tiwari said Captain Sharma's nomination was the first victory of the secular forces which had come together for a “common cause.” Even if there was need for an election, the Congress would get no fewer than 54 votes, 20 more than those required for winning the seat.

The 20 Congress MLAs plus an unattached member and the surplus votes of the RLD and the SP would ensure a record win for Captain Sharma, Mr. Tiwari said.

Calls for unity

Addressing party workers at the Congress headquarters after submitting his nominations, Captain Sharma said his nomination was aimed at ensuring the success of the ‘mission 2012' of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi.

He highlighted the need for unity at all levels of the party. Infighting and intra-party squabbling would have to be buried if the mission 2012 was to succeed.

“The interest of the party workers, those who had worked with Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, and those who will work for Rahul Gandhi would be guarded,” he said.

A “home-coming”

Captain Sharma, a former Union Minister and MP from Amethi and Rae Bareli, described his nomination from Uttar Pradesh as a “home-coming after six years.”