As BSP, SP rush to its side, UPA speeds past magic number

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: May 21 2009, 05:19am hrs
Decisively driving up the next governments stability quotient, the UPAs tally in the new Lok Sabha zoomed well past the halfway mark of 272, after key players of the Third and Fourth Front including the SP, BSP, RJD and JD(S) on Tuesday pledged support to a Congress-led alliance at the Centre.

The backing by these parties BSP (21), SP (23), RJD (4) and JD(S) (3) means that the UPA, which already has 263 members on its own, can now claim the backing of at least 314 members in a House of 543. UPA managers, however, have been working to solicit the support of independents as well as some smaller parties like the RLD led by Ajit Singh, SDF led by Sikkim chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling and the AUDF in Assam led by Badruddin Ajmal, which could take this figure higher. Former BJP leader Babulal Marandi, leading the one-man Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) has also extended support to UPA.

The BSP was first off the block to make the announcement, stating at a press conference in Lucknow on Tuesday that the party would formally back the Congress-led coalition at the Centre. We have decided to extend outside support to the UPA government to weaken communal forces and to keep the BJP-led NDA away from power, BSP chief Mayawati said. She added that party general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra will hand over the letter of support to President Pratibha Patil and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

Prompt on the heels of the BSP was the Samajwadi Party, which went ahead and conveyed its support to President Pratibha Patel for a Congress-led coalition at the Centre. SP, which has 23 MPs in the new Lok Sabha, claimed that the partys support had been sought by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

I have been authorised and directed by Mulayam Singh Yadav, national president and leader of the Samajwadi Party, to offer our support for the formation of UPA government under the leadership of Manmohan Singh, said a letter given to the President by party general secretary Amar Singh. Talking to reporters later, Singh, however, refused to specify whether the SPs support would be issue-based or unconditional. At the same time, though, he said his party favoured an SP-Congress coordination committee, similar to the one that existed when it supported the last government. The RJD also extended support to the UPA by handing over a letter to the president.

The JD(S) too announced this evening that it would be handing over a letter of support to Congress president Sonia Gandhi. JD(S) spokesperson Danish Ali said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had spoken to his party chief HD Deve Gowda over the phone and sought his support.