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Chidambaram, Akhilesh talk business over coffee and idli

Over cups of steaming coffee and idli, union Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav yesterday talked business as speculation mounted over the future of the Samajwadi Party (SP)-Congress equation. The meeting comes amid speculation that the SP and the Congress-led UPA are headed for a split.

Officials privy to the meeting said that Chidambaram headed here after a brief break in New Delhi on way back from Sharjah, and that the two discussed “everything but politics” over the carefully chosen snacks, ordered specially to tickle the south Indian taste buds of the visiting union minister.

The meeting started at 8.50 am and went on till 9.30 am with officials from both sides discussing ways to develop the state and assist in the progress of UP.

While the chief minister apprised the finance minister of the delay in releasing funds for a number of centrally aided projects, Chidambaram assured Akhilesh Yadav that he would go back to Delhi and revert within a fortnight on the issues raised.

“The FM was very reassuring on our demands and underlined that the union government was committed to development of the state,” said a senior official present at the meeting.

Uttar Pradesh has large financial needs; Chidambaram is believed to have told chief minister, who put forth several demands. “I will look into them and get back within a few weeks,” the official quoted Chidambaram as telling Akhilesh Yadav.

Sources said the state Congress leadership apprised Chidambaram of “political developments” related to the growing demand in the SP to sever its ties with the UPA.

SP general secretary Ram Asrey Kushwaha yesterday said the Lok Sabha polls could be held in 2013.

Party chief Mulayam Singh and his son Akhilesh Yadav have already dropped ample signals that their nine-year relationship with the Congress had touched rock bottom, indicating that they were ready for snapping of ties.

The SP’s 22-MP support is crucial for the survival of the Manmohan Singh-led government that has seen the Trinamool Congress and the DMK withdrawing support.

On Thursday, PM Manmohan Singh hinted that the SP might pull the rug from under the feet of the UPA but asserted that his government would complete its term.

Early polls are inevitable, says BJP
Early polls are inevitable, the BJP said yesterday, dismissing Manmohan Singh’s assertion that the government would complete its five-year tenure. Launching a direct attack against the PM, the main opposition party asked if he was looking forward to a third term and said people of the country were tired of his government.

“...The government will not last its full term and and mid-term elections seem to be inevitable,” BJP leader Balbir Punj said yesterday.

“Irrespective of what Dr Manmohan Singh says, there is an atmosphere of instability around the government... That is why you have this speculation about mid-term elections,” Punj said

The PM on Thursday night said he was confident that the government would complete its term, which comes to an end next year around May. 

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