SP initiates ''damage control'' drive for rebel MPs

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Lucknow, Jul 12 (UNI) The continuous inter conflict in the Samajwadi Party (SP) over its decision of backing the UPA government on the Indo-US nuclear deal has forced the party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav to initiate ''damage control'' drive in order to contain the party's MPs and ensure strength for the floor test on July 22.

Jittery over the increasing strength of rebelions in the party, Mr Yadav had called a meeting of senior leaders on Thursday to discuss the matter and come up with a feasible solution at the earliest.

Initiating the steps for the same, Mulayam Singh's nephew and MP from Mainpuri Dharmendra Yadav yesterday met the expelled SP MP and prime accused in the MLA Rajupal murder case Atiq Ahmad in the Mainpuri jail.

His meeting with Atiq was probably a part of damage control exercise, under which space would be created for the expelled SP MPs in the party, sources said.

Earlier reports said more than 12 MPs were not supporting the nuclear deal issue and they might violate the party whip.

On July 3, party MP from Muzaffarnagar Munnawar Hasan had opposed Mr Yadav's support to the nuclear deal, terming it ''anti-Muslim''.

The rebel SP MP Jaiprakash Rawat had said support to the UPA government was totally ''uncalled for'' as the Centre had failed on all counts specially on the inflation front. ''Moreover, support for the nuclear deal with the United States is not in national interest and I think it is a secret pact between Amar Singh and the US,'' he had alleged.

On Thursday, Mr Godalia openly raised his voice against the party and even asserted that they were not taken in confidence before the decision and only a handful of party leaders were involved in the decision of supporting the UPA over the nuke pact.

Of the total 39 Lok Sabha members of the SP, at least nine had not attend the crucial meeting of the Parliamentary Board to discuss the party's support to the UPA government on Tuesday. While, Atiq Ahmed and Afzal Ansari were in jail, Reoti Raman Singh and Mohan Singh did not attended due to illness.

Four rebel MPs, cine star Raj Babbar, Beni Prasad Verma, Munnawar Hassan and Jaiprakash, skipped the meeting due to their opposition to the deal and the party leadership. SP MP from Hamirpur Rajnarain Godalia did not also attend the meeting, citing personal reasons.

UNI PDM SW NS1924

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