Blow to SP as Gen Secy Shahid joins BSP ahead of trust vote

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New Delhi, Jul 19 (UNI) The fluid political situation in the country today delivered one more surprise when rebellion-struck Samajwadi Party found its General Secretary and Rajya Sabha Member Shahid Siddiqui in its arch rival BSP's camp, barely hours after SP Lok Sabha member SP Singh Baghel declared that he would vote against the trust motion as he was against the nuclear deal.

The desertions came barely 48 hours before Parliament was to meet for the crucial trust vote in which the SP with its 39 MPs was set to play a major role in saving the Manmohan Singh Government.

Mr Siddiqui announced his decision to join the BSP after about a 30-minute long meeting with Ms Mayawati here this afternoon. He created a flutter among the waiting mediapersons when he drove up to Ms Mayawati's residence while she was in discussion with TDP chief Chandra Babu Naidu.

Emerging from the meeting along with the BSP supremo, he said he was under increasing pressure from his community, all the Urdu speaking people and the people of Uttar Pradesh in general for remaining in a party which had allied with the Congress to support the deal.

''I am opposed to the nuclear deal and the support of the SP for it. I have been feeling suffocated in my party for the last one month. The deal was neither in the interest of Muslims nor of the nation. I express full faith in the leadership of Ms Mayawati,'' Mr Siddiqui told mediapersons after the meeting.

Replying to a question, he claimed that several SP MPs were in touch with him and would vote against the Government on July 22 as they were dead against the deal.

Mr Siddiqui said Muslims were so far used for their votes, but they 'should not let themselves be fooled any longer.

''I have full confidence in the leadership of Behenji and will struggle for the uplift of the disadvantaged classes of the society, he said.

Welcoming Mr Siddiqui in the party, Ms Mayawati denied there was any deal behind his decision to join her party.

''Mr Siddiqui agrees with our policies and I welcome him in the BSP,'' she said.

Attacking her arch rival Samajwadi party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Ms Mayawati said he had struck an opportunistic alliance with the ruling Congress on the issue of nuclear deal only to wriggle out of the CBI cases against him and his relatives.

Besides Mr Siddiqui, Mr Baghel has also come out strongly against the nuclear deal and announced in Agra today that he would vote against the Government.

Three other Samajwadi Party MPs Munawwar Hasan, Jay Prakash Rawat and Rajnarain Budholia have already declared their opposition to the deal.

At yesterday's meeting of the Samajwadi Party Parliamentary Board, two MPs Saleem Sherwani and Usha Sharma, who attended the last week's meeting, were absent. However, they could not make it to Delhi due to personal reasons.

Two rebel MPs Jayprakash Rawat and Rajnarain Budholia who did not attend the last meeting were absent this time too. One MP Munawwar Husain is facing suspension for anti-party activities. He yesterday openly declared that he was going to join the BSP after the vote of trust on July 22. Besides, two of the SP MPs Atiqurrehman and Afzal Ansari were in jail, but their loyalty too was in question.

Two more SP MPs Beni Prasad Verma and Raj Babbar, who too were facing suspension, were not supposed to be present at the meeting.

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