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Ajit Singh’s RLD joins UPA
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 12
A beleaguered ruling Congress received two consolation prizes today with Ajit Singh, leading the 5-member Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), giving his letter of support to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Samajwadi Party (SP) Rajya Sabha MP Rasheed Masood, a Muslim leader of consequence in western UP, joining the ruling party.

Ajit Singh met PM Manmohan Singh, soon after his meeting with the UPA chairperson, giving rise to speculation that his induction into the Union Cabinet, possibly as the country’s Civil Aviation Minister, could take place any day now.

With this, the ruling UPA numbers have gone up from 272 to 277 MPs. In a House of 544, the Government requires a minimum of 272 MPs for a simple majority.

Confirming the meeting, AICC general secretary in charge of UP Digvijaya Singh said, “Ajit Singh gave a letter to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi stating that the RLD would like to join the alliance and the latter has agreed to this."

He, however, sidestepped the issue of Ajit Singh’s induction as Civil Aviation Minister saying, "You are addressing this question to the wrong person."

He simultaneously introduced former Union Minister Rasheed Masood to the media who declared that, “I have taken this decision in view of the way communal forces are trying to gain strength by using the issue of corruption," Masood said.

He said that his decision was also prompted by SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's “controversial” statement to the effect that giving reservation to Muslims within the OBC quota would affect the share of the other OBCs.

Masood’s induction is expected to help the Congress party swing the Muslim vote a little more in its favour in western UP districts of Saharanpur and Muzaffarnagar where he has some standing.

Under the agreement, the RLD will contest 45 seats in the UP Assembly elections expected sometime early next year leaving the rest of the 403 for the Congress.





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