NATIONAL

Amar Singh sought Vajpayee's help in `phone-tapping' issue?

NEW DELHI, AUG. 1. The war of attrition between the Samajwadi Party and the Congress shows no signs of abating. Close on the heels of the SP general secretary, Amar Singh's outburst against the Congress leadership, the party has now accused the Central Government of targeting some of its senior leaders by tapping their phones.

The Samajwadi Party raised the phone tapping issue in the Rajya Sabha on the last day of the Parliament session but it got buried in the bedlam created by the Opposition on the Shibu Soren issue.

The Government moved quickly and senior Ministers of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government such as Pranab Mukherjee, Shivraj Patil, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ahmad Patel, the political secretary to the Congress president held an extended meeting with Mr. Amar Singh. Little, however, appears to have come out of the meeting.

The Samajwadi leadership continues to believe that the phones of the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mulayam Singh Yadav, his brother, Ram Gopal Yadav, and Mr. Amar Singh are being tapped on a regular basis. According to sources, Mr. Amar Singh reportedly met the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a few days ago to brief him on the issue. He reportedly requested him to raise the issue in Parliament on August 16.

The extent to which the relations between the two parties have deteriorated is also evident from the fact that the Samajwadi Party leaders have begun to accuse the Centre of trying to dig up dirt on Mulayam Singh Yadav by scrutinising some of the defence deals concluded during his tenure as the Defence Minister in the United Front Government.

Downturn in ties

There has been a steady downturn in the relations between the two parties ever since the UPA Government was formed at the Centre. The SP leaders complain that the Congress ignored its offer of unilateral support to the Government and that its leaders were humiliated when they went to Sonia Gandhi's house to offer support. Senior SP leaders complain that the Uttar Pradesh Government was not consulted on the appointment of the new Governor to the State.

The SP leadership is of the view that the Centre has been trying to make things difficult for the State Government by seeking direct briefings from senior officials. They also point to the fact the new Governor, T. Rajeshwar, has already questioned several decisions of the State Government, the latest being the induction of the controversial Raghuraj Pratap Singh (Raja Bhaiya) into the State Cabinet.

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