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Jaffer Sharief shares dais with Mayawati

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A. Jayaram

Supporters say the former Railway Minister considers BSP a fraternal party

The conference was organised to discuss price rise, office of profit and reservation policy BSP is not hostile to Congress in U.P. is the argument in support of Mr. Sharief Congress lost 30 Assembly and four Lok Sabha seats owing to the presence of the BSP

Bangalore: That the former Railway Minister and permanent invitee to the Congress Working Committee C.K. Jaffer Sharief shared the dais with Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati here on Sunday was the subject of much discussion in Congress circles.

Mr. Sharief attended a conference organised by the BSP to discuss "Price rise, office of profit and reservation policy leading to instability in the Union Government".

Though Mr. Sharief was not available for comment, his supporters in the Congress are of the view that he considers the BSP as a fraternal party, though he might not share that party's view that the United Progressive Alliance Government at the Centre has been rendered unstable.

There has been no doubt much debate in the Congress that the 2004 debacle in the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Karnataka was attributable to the presence of BSP candidates in several constituencies. According to one reckoning, the Congress lost 30 Assembly and four Lok Sabha seats owing to the BSP factor. The party should have entered into an understanding with the BSP to protect the votes of Dalits.

There is also the viewpoint that Mr. Sharief had not breached party discipline by attending a public meeting of a political party, which is not an ally of the Congress.

It is noted that a good number of Congress leaders had shared the AHINDA platform with the All India Progressive Janata Dal leaders, and the party leadership did not take any action against them.

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