With the Congress giving a rude jolt to allies by ruling out a national pre-poll tie-up,the Samajwadi Party and Nationalist Congress Party today met to boost their bargaining power with the grand old party.
SP general secretary Amar Singh and NCP chief Sharad Pawar met in the Capital,following which Singh said they were exploring possibilities of a pre-poll alliance. Singh also raised the stakes for the Congress by suggesting that the SP would support Pawar in case he bids for power after the elections.
If Sharad Pawar gets a chance,the SP will support his bid for power. Likewise,Pawar would also extend his support for any real bid for power by Mulayam Singh Yadav, Singh said.
The posturing on the leadership of the next government came a day after Rahul Gandhi backed Manmohan Singh to be PM again. However,Singh went on to add that the SP too would support Manmohan Singh as PM if the Congress makes a bid for power.
The Congress decision not to have any national pre-poll alliance has come as a blow to the NCP and SP,which had hoped to tie up with the party outside their home turfs. By joining hands,they are trying to force the Congress to concede their seat-sharing demands.
A tie-up with the SP could boost the NCPs minority support base in Maharastra and spoil the Congresss chances. And the SP could,with NCP support,get a presence in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Besides,it hopes,by allying with Pawar,to neutralise the effect of its arrangement with Kalyan Singh among the minorities.
The NCP,which had contested 21 of the total 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra in alliance with the Congress last time,wants more. And the SP has made no secret of its desire to have the upper hand vis-a-vis the Congress in Uttar Pradesh.