Notwithstanding the bonhomie evident at the recent meeting between Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, ties between the state's ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Congress appear set to strain.
Barely a month after the SP leadership made it clear that it would not accept political 'grass hoppers' into the party fold, within the last day the party has admitted two leaders from the Congress, with which they shared a bitter relationship in the run up to the crucial state assembly polls.
While the state president of the National Students Union of India (NSUI) Pravin Chowdhary 'quietly' joined the Samajwadi Party late Friday, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Lalu Prasad Yadav's 'samdhi' Jitendra Yadav, who fought elections on a Congress ticket from Sikandarabad, Ghaziabad, Saturday hitched on to the SP, further embarrassing the Congress, which is already reeling under the after effects of the defeat at the
Talking to IANS, Yadav, who is the father-in-law of Lalu Prasad's daughter Ragini, said he had realized his mistake of leaving the SP, which was his "home for 25 years" and now he was "correcting the mistake". "I am thankful to UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Mulayam Singh and Shivpal ji for embracing me back into the party fold," he said and added that the SP was the "only party working for the weaker sections".
The developments have rattled people behind the idea of a "cohesive Congress-SP relationship".
A close aide of the chief minister conceded that this was "politics" and that the chief minister was a votary of close centre-state relationship and it should be seen as limited to that only. Congress, ever since the landslide win for the SP, has been trying to 'mend fences' with the Yadavs, as was evident in the high-profile contingent it sent for Akhilesh Yadav's swearing in on March 15.
Bonhomie was also apparent at the meeting between Akhilesh Yadav and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that was followed by a "very cordial" meeting between Union Water Resource Minister Pawan K. Bansal and state PWD Minister Shivpal Singh Yadav, signalling a thaw in the relations.
With the presidential election just three months away, political observers feel the Congress "will bear the developments with a smile and not displease the regional satrap Mulayam" as it badly needs him to push its candidate into the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at email@example.com)