Cong-SP cross-connection over phone tapping

New Delhi, Jan 4 | Updated: Jan 5 2006, 05:30am hrs
The war of words between the Samajwadi Party and Congress over the phone- tapping controversy looked set to escalate further, with the AICC on Wednesday lashing out sharply against Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav for attacking party president Sonia Gandhi.

In a caustic response replete with tongue-in-cheek remarks, AICC general secretary Ambika Soni took the SP leadership head-on, virtually taunting the UP chief minister to reveal why he and his fund manager Amar Singh were so agitated and so afraid over the incident.

The Congress retaliation came even as SP leader Amar Singh sought to reinforce his fences by calling on CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat and getting him to support his case. Amar Singh is next calling on TN chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Thursday to garner support of non-Congress chief ministers.

As far as the tapping of phone of Mr Singh is concerned, it is a serious matter because it has been established that through a private telephone company tapping has been done illegally. There should be a proper investigation to uncover the conspiracy behind it, Mr Karat said following a meeting with Mr Amar Singh.

The Congress leadership, while supporting this contention and asserting that it was a serious matter, however, added that by dramatising the incident, the SP leadership was possibly hiding more. The honourable Chief minister and his fund manager are very tense and very agitated over what they are apprehending has been recorded ... Is it like Operation Majnu Ms Soni said.

Taking a dig at Mr Yadav for suggesting that the matter be probed not by CBI but by chief ministers of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Bihar, Ms Soni said the Samajwadi Party chief wanted to start a new convention. In an obvious reference to a third front at the political level, she said it seemed Mr Yadav wanted the chief ministers to align with him.

The Congress leader asked whether the UP chief minister had thought of such a course of action after the killing of BJP MLA Krishnanad Rai or after the violence in Mau and large number of deaths in eastern UP due to Japanese encephalitis.