Mayawati's meeting with Sonia confounds all

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New Delhi, Feb 20 (UNI) The meeting between Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Bahujan Samaj Party(BSP) supremo and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati here on Sunday night has surprised all in view of the extreme bitterness prevailing between the two parties.

It has sent confounding signals to political workers of both sides and also to political analysts.

The Congress and the BSP are tightlipped about the meeting, which was kept a closely guarded secret by both sides.

''Such meetings take place between two leaders in a democracy, so they should not surprise anybody. We cannot shed any more light on it,'' Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natrajan told reporters here.

The newspersons wanted to know whether the meeting was indicative of any Congress desire for some alliance with the BSP, and whether Ms Sonia Gandhi had been authorised by the Congress Working Committee to meet the BSP leader who had recently issued a threat to withdraw support to the UPA government.

It is speculated that the Congress decision to meet the BSP leader might be indicative of the ruling party's intentions to keep its political options open in Uttar Pradesh.

But if seen from the point of view of the BSP, which does not need any alliance with the Congress in Uttar Pradesh, the meeting might have been sought by Ms Mayawati to discuss issues relating to the Congress decision to appeal in the Delhi High Court against the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal decison accepting Ms Mayawati's contention that her personal wealth was a gift by her party workers and supporters.

The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister has been alleging in her rallies across the country that the Congress government at the Centre was trying to implicate her in false cases.

She was also sore over the Centre not providing SPG cover to her demanded by her government in view of the 'threat to her life'.

Congress MP and AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi also in his rallies in Uttar Pradesh has been making blistering attacks on the BSP supremo. He even said that his party had made a big mistake to ally with the BSP in the 1996 assembly polls in the state.

The relations between the two political rivals had hit a new low last month when Ms Mayawati at her birthday party here accused the Congress leadership of conspiring to eliminate her. She had even alleged that 'Mafia don' Atique Ahmad, who is now under arrest, had been hired by the Congress to finish here, and that she might be elimiated by him under the guise of a terrorist attack.

However, just the next day, after meeting the Prime Minister with a list of her demands, she indicated that she had dropped the idea of withdrawing support from the UPA goverment for now, and expressed her satisfaction with the Prime Minister's response to her demands.

UNI NAZ PK RK2040

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