Gargi Parsai

Threat of withdrawal of support to United Progressive Alliance Government at the Centre

Provide appropriate security: Jayanti Natarajan

We have nothing to do with Atiq Ahmed: Digvijay

NEW DELHI: The Congress has said that it was the “prerogative” of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati to withdraw support to the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre.

“She can do whatever she feels is in the interest of her party,” Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan said.

The Congress was reacting to Ms. Mayawati’s remark earlier in the day that some Congress leaders were trying to eliminate her and that the BSP would take a decision on continuing its support to the UPA after January 15.

Appeal to Manmohan

While refuting the charge as “baseless,” Ms. Natarajan appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to provide appropriate security to Ms. Mayawati. “Her security should be jointly decided by the State and the Centre. In the State, she herself is the Chief Minister. As far as the Government of India is concerned, we appeal to the Prime Minister to extend her appropriate security.”

AICC general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh Digvijay Singh said Ms. Mayawati’s charges were “unacceptable.” “We are not denying that she should have appropriate security and the Central government must look into the perception of threat to her life. The provision of SPG cover would require an amendment to the law. She enjoys National Security Guard cover. The State administration is in her hands. What is she frightened of?”

Denying any Congress association with the expelled Phoolpur MP Atiq Ahmed, Mr. Singh said Ms. Mayawati did not level this charge when Atiq Ahmed was in the Samajwadi Party. “Her reaction seems to be quite charitable towards Mulayam Singh [SP leader].”

Mr. Singh clarified that the Congress was “not attacking” the BSP supremo. It was playing “constructive Opposition” in the State.

Central funds

Charging the Uttar Pradesh government with blaming the Centre for any problem in the State, he said Central funds were raised from Rs. 57,000 crore to Rs. 1.8 lakh crore in XI Plan. “The State government is unhappy about the Centre not yielding to its demand for releasing Rs. 85,000 crore for infrastructure. We would like to know if the Uttar Pradesh government has the capacity to absorb so much money when funds for rural development and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme are underutilised?”

Conceding that Uttar Pradesh was “not an easy State to govern,” Mr. Singh said it would be too early to assess Ms. Mayawati’s governance as she had not completed even one year in power.

At the same time, he criticised the investment of huge funds in eulogising Dr. B.R. Ambedkar through parks and statues. “Even Baba Saheb would not have been happy about spending so much in his memory and not on the socio-economic welfare of Dalits.”