SP triggers new crisis, TMC extends hand
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In more ally trouble for the UPA, even as the government sought to put up a brave front and claimed it had sorted out all its issues with Mulayam Singh Yadav, the Samajwadi Party on Wednesday sent the Congress leadership into a tizzy by demanding the resignation of union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma.
Despite both Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reaching out to Mulayam during the day, and Verma offering an apology, the SP stuck to its demand for his dismissal. The Congress, meanwhile, indicated that it would not yield to pressure tactics.
The stage for the standoff was set by Mulayam himself. He is learnt to have reached out to Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and asked her to castigate Verma for his disparaging remarks against him.
Addressing a public function in Gonda over the weekend, Verma was reported to have accused Mulayam of taking a "commission" for supporting the UPA government. He also alleged that the SP chief had "terrorist links".
Raising the issue in Lok Sabha, Swaraj said: "We may have ideological differences, but to level such allegations against him... that he takes commission for extending support... He (Verma) should be sacked forthwith."
Stating that "it is a question of breach of privilege", Swaraj requested the chair to refer the matter to the privileges committee. Mulayam later walked up to Swaraj and thanked her for her support.
Taken aback, Congress president Sonia Gandhi walked up to Mulayam as soon as the House was adjourned. While what she said was not audible from the press gallery, she could be seen folding her hands twice in the course of their conversation. Sources in the SP, which supports the government from outside, later said Sonia had expressed regret over Verma's remarks.
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