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SP expels Amar Singh, Jaya Prada, suspends four legislators

Amar Singh.
Amar Singh.

The Samajwadi Party, led by former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, today expelled rebel leader Amar Singh and actor-turned-politician Jaya Prada and suspended four UP legislators for their public criticism of the party.

Mr Mohan Singh, who has replaced Mr Amar Singh as General Secretary and spokesman of the party, told journalists in Lucknow that the two had been expelled from the primary membership of the Samajwadi Party for anti-party activities.

Ms Jaya Prada had, at a press conference two days ago, spoken out strongly against the party leadership for its treatment of Mr Amar Singh in recent days.

The four MLAs suspended were Mr Madan Chouhan, Mr Sandeep Agarwal, Mr Ashok Chandel and Mr Sarvesh Singh, all said to be loyal to Mr Amar Singh.

Mr Mohan Singh said the decision was taken at a meeting of the party's Parliamentary Board.

Mr Amar Singh had quit as General Secretary and Spokesman of the SP on January 6 on health grounds but it was clear all along that he had made the move because of differences with the party leadership, especially Mr Yadav's son Akhilesh Yadav and his cousin Ram Gopal Yadav.

Jaya Pradha.
Jaya Pradha.

Subsequent events have proved this surmise correct, with both sides taking swipes at each other. A few days after Mr Amar Singh quit the party posts, Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt also quit as General Secretary, following in his mentor's footsteps.

Mr Amar Singh had, while resigning from the party posts, said that he would continue to be a primary member of the SP and has retained the Rajya Sabha seat that he won as a candidate of the party.

Mr Mohan Singh said today that Sanjay Dutt was still very much a part of the Samajwadi Party. On Ms Jaya Bachchan, who is also an actor-turned politician and known to be close to Mr Amar Singh, Mr Mohan Singh said she, too, was an integral part of the party.

Mr Amar Singh said that Ms Bachchan had attended public meetings organised by him in recent days and that she had made it clear that if it came to choosing between the party and family, she would choose family. The Bachchans have always said that Mr Amar Singh is very much a part of their family.

Virtually challenging the SP to act against Ms Bachchan, Mr Amar Singh said the party did not have the courage to take any action against her because of her standing and her personality.

The party has been saying that Mr Amar Singh should resign his Rajya Sabha membership, but he is clearly in no mood to oblige them. It now appears that the SP will look at the legal options available to it to get him to vacate the seat and Ms Jaya Prada to vacate her Lok Sabha seat. She has been elected to the Lok Sabha from Rampur in Uttar Pradesh.

Talking to reporters after his expulsion from the party, he described the SP decision as a "gift, a blessing, a blessing in disguise" from Mr Yadav.

"He has given me liberation, he has made me absolutely free to do what I want to do," Mr Amar Singh said. He said SP leader Rashid Masood had approached him on behalf of Mr Yadav recently to find out if there was chance of his returning to the party fold, but he had declined.

Mr Amar Singh made it clear today that he was particularly upset by the way in which the SP leadership tried to blame him for the decision to bring former BJP leader Kalyan Singh, who was the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh at the time of the Babri Masjid demolition in December, 1992, into the party. He said the bonhomie between Mr Yadav and Mr Kalyan Singh went back a long time and he had no role to play in the decision.

Mr Amar Singh also categorically stated that he would retain his Rajya Sabha seat, saying that he had not been got it in charity by anyone but had been elected by the members of the UP Legislative Assembly. "There is no question of resigning from the Rajya Sabha," he said. In any case, he said Mr Yadav had not sought his resignation from the Upper House.

Mr Amar Singh also said that he had not sought entry into any other party, including the Congress, the Bahujan Samaj Party headed by UP Chief Minister Mayawati and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) led by Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Yadav. "I have not talked to anyone," he maintained.

Ever since he announced his decision to quit party posts last month, there has been much speculation about Mr Amar Singh's future plans, especially about whether he would join the Congress or some other party. In this context, the NCP was also mentioned as a possibility at one stage.

In particular, Mr Amar Singh has been all praise for Congress President Sonia Gandhi in recent weeks, but the grand old party has been displaying a distinct lack of interest in him.

Last week, Mr Amar Singh was heard praising both Ms Gandhi and Ms Mayawati in a television interview. "Both are political personalities in their own right. One lady has proved herself in UP against all odds, and one lady has proved herself in India against all adversity," he said.

His remarks about Ms Mayawati immediately led to speculation about whether he was cosying up to her party, but Mr Amar Singh said today that his remarks should not be interpreted in this way. "They do not mean I am trying to enter the BSP or that I am endorsing her party's policies and programmes," he said.

NNN

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