SP hits out at Beni Prasad for making ‘irresponsible utterances’
The Union steel minister had previously said that the SP and the BSP were supporting the UPA out of political compulsions
Virendra Nath Bhatt
Samajwadi Party (SP) irked over the comments of the Union steel minister Beni Prasad Verma against their supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav on Tuesday hit out at the minister. The SP accused Verma of weakening the secular forces by trying to vitiate relation of the party with the Congress by his irresponsible utterances. The SP urged the Congress high command to keep leaders like Verma under control to strengthen the communal forces.
Verma, who comes from the dominant OBCs Kurmi caste, was in Lucknow on Monday and had said that the SP and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will continue to support the UPA government at the Centre as they had no other option and it was their political compulsion.
“We wish to clarify our stand that the SP has not extended outside support to the UPA out of any political compulsions but due to our ideological commitment for secularism and preventing communal forces from coming to power at the Centre,” said SP spokeman Rajendra Chowdhary adding, “the sole credit for preventing the BJP from capturing power at the Centre after the 2009 Parliament elections goes to the Samajwadi Party and its chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.”
“Beni Prasad Verma appears to be suffering from foot in the mouth disease. Some leaders of the Congress for enhancing their credentials before their party high command are in the habit of issuing irresponsible and provocative statements in intemperate language,” said an angry Chowdhary. Terming Verma as political pygmy in comparison to Mulayam Singh Yadav, the SP spokesman said, “Prime Minister Manmohan Singh holds the SP chief in high esteem and gives due regard to him.”
Verma, who was the most trusted colleague of Mulayam Singh Yadav for over three decades and co-founder of the SP in November 1992, parted company in 2006, following his differences with the then high profile SP general secretary Amar Singh. Verma soon turned into an arch rival of Mulayam Singh Yadav from a friend and a trusted colleague. Both were ministers in the United Front government at the Centre led by then Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda and IK Gujral. In Deve Gowda regime, Verma was the minister of state for communication and Mulayam Singh Yadav was the defence minister. IK Gujral elevated Verma to the position of a cabinet minister.
Verma had floated his own political outfit and had contested the 2007 assembly elections from Faizabad but lost. In 2009 Parliamentary elections, he contested as the Congress candidate from Gonda Lok Sabha seat and surprised his detractors by winning the election. In March 2012 assembly election, the Congress in order to make inroads into the OBCs vote bank had projected Verma as the OBC mascot of the party. The Congress’ carefully crafted strategy, however, failed to click and the party drew blank from the OBC voting bloc in the elections.
SP, BSP will continue to support UPA II: Verma
Beni Prasad Verma said that the UPA will not lose support of its allies, in case TMC moves a no-confidence motion against it
Virendra Nath Bhatt
Ahead of the crucial winter session of the Parliament that begins 22 November Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma on Monday 19 November claimed that there is no threat to the UPA government as Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati would continue to support the Manmohan Singh government at the Centre.
Without elaborating he said, “Everyone knows why Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati would continue their support to the UPA at any cost, hence the no-confidence motion in Lok Sabha would fall flat,” adding, “there is no possibility of the no confidence motion against the government since Mamata Banarjee of Trinmool Congress lacks the required support of at least 50 MPs for tabling the motion with the opposition being badly divided.” Even if the Trinmool Congress moves the no confidence motion, it would have no relevance, Verma added.
West Bengal chief minister Mamta Banarjee’s Trinmool Congress (TMC), which had walked out of the UPA over the issue of FDI in retail, has announced to bring a no confidence motion against the UPA during the winter session of the Parliament. The TMC, however, lacks the requisite support on the floor of the house and has sought support of the BJP and the Left parties.
“There is no alternative of the UPA in the country at present, so the political parties of Uttar Pradesh have no reason to go against the ruling coalition at the Centre. The UPA will emerge as a force to reckon with before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, which will be held on time,” said Verma.
On the elevation of the Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi as the chairman of the five member election coordination committee and his projection by the party as the next prime minister, the Verma said, “The Congress high command would take the final call on this issue and in my personal capacity I want that Rahul Gandhi should lead the party in the elections and become the next PM of the country.” Ruling out the speculation of shifting from Gonda Lok Sabha seat, Verma, who is also the member of the Congress working committee, maintained that he would contest for 2014 Parliament election from Gonda seat where he has proposed a 500 MW power plant, a steel plant, an ITI and other projects.
The steel minister was in Lucknow on Monday to launch the Rashtriya Ispal Nigam Limited (RINL) ‘Customer Portal’ and released the ‘Customer Charter’— a first by any steel company in the country. While inaugurating the portal, Verma said that the country’s rural markets will be bigger than the markets in some of the developed countries in the next few years.
Verma announced that a steel unit would be set up by RINL in Lalitpur after the state government approves the mining of iron ore. A similar plant could also be set up at Sonebhadra. ''RINL is also considering setting up a small plant near Rail Coach Factory (RCF) at Lalganj in Rae Bareli,'' he added.
Virendra Nath Bhatt is a Special Correspondent with Tehelka.