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Parties big, small scramble to support UPA

IANS
May 19, 2009 at 10:45pm IST

New Delhi: The United Progressive Alliance’s victory in the elections has had a cascading effect on its estranged allies and supporters, and even independent MPs.

Several political parties on announced their announce support to the Congress-led UPA in forming a government.

Arch rivals Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) as well as the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) vied with each other to offer support to the Congress-led UPA, which needs just nine more MPs to get the 272 figure needed for majority in the 543-member Lok Sabha.

WINNING TEAM: Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan get promise of support from parties.

The Bodoland People's Front, Sikkim Democratic Front and Nagaland People's Front, each with one MP, wrote to President Pratibha Patil extending their support to the UPA government.

Three Independent MPs from Maharashtra also joined the swelling number of those falling over each other to extend support. Sadashiv Mandlik, who won as Independent candidate from Kolhapur, Raju Shetty, of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana who won from Hatkandagle and Baliram Jadhav, of the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi who won from Palghar, have announced their support.

The Congress, however, is keeping its cards close to the chest, maintaining that it is yet to make up its mind on taking support from the BSP, SP and RJD, which were its rivals in their respective states during the just-concluded general elections.

There is a meeting between the Congress and its "pre-poll allies" on Wednesday at 10, Janpath, the residence of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

"We have not made up our mind on the issue. We are meeting our pre-poll allies tomorrow. A decision will be taken only after that," sources in the Congress party said.

The SP and BSP, which fought elections against the Congress in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere, said they had decided to pledge their support to the UPA to "strengthen secular forces" and to keep the Bharatiya Janata Party out.

The RJD, which on Monday said it would offer unconditional support to the UPA, also handed over to President Patil a letter of support on Tuesday evening.

The UPA is short of nine MPs to reach the 272 half-way mark in the 543-member House. If SP (23), BSP (20), and JD-S (3) are added to its tally, the UPA will easily cross the 300 mark in the 15th Lok Sabha. The RJD has four seats.

The Samajwadi Party, which contested the elections in alliance with Lok Janshakti Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, was the first to declare its support for UPA.

It has just 23 seats this time, down from 36 last time. The BSP has marginally bettered its tally to 21 from 19 last time, while the RJD's share plummeted from 24 to just four.

SP general secretary Amar Singh on Tuesday morning handed over a letter of support for the formation of a Congress-led UPA government under the leadership of Manmohan Singh to President Pratibha Patil. A statement from the president's office confirmed that the SP leader met Patil and handed over a letter of support for the UPA.

"Manmohan Singh talked to me for support. I have been authorised and directed by party chief Mulayam Singh to offer our support for the formation of a UPA government under the leadership of Dr. Manmohan Singh," Amar Singh told reporters outside Rashtrapati Bhawan after handing over the letter of support to Patil.

The Congress is not keen to take the support of the SP, which is known for dictating a tough price in the form of ministerial berths and other concessions. Moreover, with the Congress winning 21 seats in Uttar Pradesh and the party top brass working on a long-term strategy to revive the Congress in the Hindi heartland, not many are in favour of accommodating the SP, which is seen as an unreliable customer.

But the party is keeping its lines open with SP and others as the UPA lacks majority in the Rajya Sabha which will help it to push through controversial measures.

Mayawati also announced that her party's 21 MPs will extend unconditional outside support to the new UPA government at the centre. "The party has agreed to provide outside support to the UPA government without any conditions," Mayawati told reporters before a meeting of the party's national executive in Lucknow.

In Banglaore, the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy also announced unconditional support for the UPA. The party has three MPs.

RJD leaders Prem Chand Gupta and Jay Prakash Narayan Yadav handed over a letter of support to the president in the evening, after which BSP general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra did the same.

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