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Sonia camp looks to UF to break impasse (part I of II) - The Times of India

Janak Singh ()
March 6, 1998

Title: Sonia camp looks to UF to break impasse (part I of II)
Author: Janak Singh
Publication: The Times of India
Date: March 6, 1998

Mulayam, Moopanar favoured for PM's post

With Congress hopes of forming the next government fading fast in
view of the divisions within the party, the Sonia Gandhi camp on
Thursday was toying with the idea of installing a United Front-
led ministry with Mulayam Singh Yadav or G.K. Moopanar as the
Prime Minister to foil the BJP's bid to capture power.

With Ms Gandhi wielding considerable influence in the Congress,
sources in her camp do not anticipate opposition to whatever
bears her endorsement. Also, it is argued that since Sharad
Pawar, who is canvassing support to emerge as the next Prime
Minister, does not have much hope in view of the opposition to
his candidature by the Left parties, the Congress should explore
all options of blocking the chances of a BJP-led alliance ruling
the country..

However, it is difficult to say whether this move will succeed.
There is a tussle in the Congress party, with supporters of
Sharad Pawar backing his claim to the hilt to become the next
Prime Minister. Some Congressmen, on the other hand, want the
party to sit on the opposition benches. A section of the party
has even begun questioning Ms Gandhi's credentials in view of the
fact that despite her campaigning hard, the party's tally has
remained almost what it was in the last election.

According to sources close to her, Ms Gandhi is eager to
forestall BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee's induction as the next
Prime Minister because of her fears that his government would
institute fresh probes not only in the Bofors scandal, but also
seek to embarrass her family by launching investigations into
allegedly dubious deals involving the laying of pipelines and the
construction of fertiliser plants when Indira Gandhi and Rajiv
Gandhi were Prime Ministers.

Having called Mr Vajpayee a "liar" during the heat of campaigning
for the elections, Ms Gandhi, says an MP trusted by her,
apprehends that the BJP and its allies might resort to a witch-
hunt as part of their tactics against the family which epitomises
Congress history. "It is not Mr Vajpayee, who can be trusted to
have the grace not to torment a widow, but what we fear most is
the presence in the government of persons like George Fernandes
who exercise no limits in whatever they do," the MP confided.
Inquiries reveal that CPM general secretary Harkishen Singh
Surjeet has already conveyed through emissaries to 10, Janpath
that the Left parties will neither participate in a Congress-led
government nor even support it from the outside.

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