In a stinging critique of the UPA government, Mulayam Singh Yadav said on Tuesday that his Samajwadi Party (SP) was in the opposition. He said that the SP was fulfilling the role of the opposition by questioning the policies of the government, which he said had no direction.
The Samajwadi Pary supports the UPA government from outside and has bailed it out on several occasions, including the presidential elections recently and most importantly the confidence vote brought against the UPA-I government after the signing of the India-US nuclear deal and the Left's withdrawal of support. "We are against their (UPA's) policies which they must correct. That is the role of the opposition and we are fulfilling it," he said in Kolkata.
"There is a huge challenge before the country... especially before us who are in the opposition," he said.
The SP leader was speaking mostly about the coal scam that held up the entire monsoon session of Parliament and put the government on the mat.
"You can see there is no clear policy and we don't know where they want to take the country. No one can say. We sit everyday in the Lok Sabha.We listen. We are in touch with the govt, but there is no direction," he told reporters.
Mr Yadav clearly distanced himself from the government on this issue. During the monsoon session, he had also organised a protest outside Parliament against the coal blocks allocation scam, along with the DMK and the Telugu Desam Party.
Not only will this open criticism and taking up the space of the opposition worry the Congress, so will the fact that all of this was happening in Mamata Banerjee's capital. Ms Bannerjee has been the toughest ally that the Congress has had to deal with and her positions often allied with those of the opposition.
Mr Yadav had several good things to say about Ms Banerjee, whom he called hard-working and a fighter, though also stubborn. This cosying up of the two leaders could also give the Congress heartburn over a possible third front emerging. In fact, Mulayam's brother and senior SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav said as much,"We pray that there's a third front."
The two were last seen together before the Presidential elections, where Mr Yadav first supported Ms Banerjee against Pranab Mukherjee's candidature and was then won over in a matter of 48 hours by the Congress. He was also given pride of place during the government's annual report card event at the Prime Minister's residence.
Samajwadi Party's 21 Lok Sabha MPs have also been seen by the Congress as a counter to the 19 that Ms Banerjee has, whenever it looked like she would pull out of government.