Gupta crown caught in heartland bind
Akalis raise pitch for Jagir sack
NDA to take ‘forged’ letter to President
Red flags ‘bow’ to didi’s diktat
Sindhu hardsell faces reality test
UP cops in freedom cry
Church doubts police’s ISI hand theory
Backlash to BSF ‘killing’
27 jawans die in bus plunge

New Delhi, June 11 
The BJP central leadership is in a quandary in Uttar Pradesh. It wants to replace its non-performing chief minister Ram Prakash Gupta and state president Om Prakash Singh, but cannot make the changes immediately due to groupism and the complicated caste dynamics of the heartland state.

A marathon session between state leaders and party top brass, including Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, home minister L.K. Advani, BJP president Kushabhau Thakre and Govindacharya, party general secretary and Uttar Pradesh-in-charge, today failed to throw up any immediate solution. A decision to effect a leadership change has been put off for the time being.

The party has to find a backward and an upper caste leader for the two top slots in the state to balance the caste equation — a tall order.

After Kalyan Singh’s exit, the BJP does not have a backward caste leader of stature though it has two or three upper caste leaders. While a large section of backwards have drifted away from the BJP, the upper castes, if not suitably rewarded, may gravitate towards the Congress.

With its rapidly dwindling stock in the state, a worried central leadership had summoned Gupta, Om Prakash Singh and ministers Kalraj Mishra and Lalji Tandon to Delhi, fuelling speculation of an imminent leadership change. Party sources said Union surface transport minister Rajnath Singh, earlier state president, and PWD minister Kalraj Mishra are contenders for the chief minister’s post.

The party suffered a series of setbacks in the state recently. It faced massive cross-voting during the Rajya Sabha elections. In the subsequent election to the state Legislative Council, the BJP candidate was defeated.

Yet another blow was delivered by former chief minister Kalyan Singh, whose Rashtriya Krantikari Party won the Soron byelection, pushing the BJP candidate to the fourth position.

Alarmed by the developments, Govindacharya was sent to Lucknow early last week to take stock of the situation. Sources said Govindacharya suggested immediate change in the state leadership.

However, emerging from the meeting, the leaders denied that they were summoned to discuss the issue. The chief minister said he would continue till the Assembly elections next year and that he was not going to quit before that. He said he had the full backing of the party high command.

Govindacharya said the meeting was a “kind of evaluation of the party’s working and the government’s performance”. He said the Prime Minister and the home minister would be out of Delhi for most of June. All the three senior leaders, including Thakre, were available in Delhi currently, he added. Hence a meeting was convened.

A senior BJP leader, however, said the party high command was ready to discuss the leadership issue, but Kalraj Mishra, known to be close to Vajpayee, could not make up his mind.

The party is, in fact, faced with a situation similar to the one in Delhi before the 1998 Assembly elections, when it changed the incumbent chief minister and bit dust at the hustings.    

Chandigarh, June 11 
Pressure is mounting on Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to sack Jagir Kaur as Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee president if she refuses to step down in the wake of the high court order for a CBI probe into the death of her 18-year-old daughter in April.

The high court had ordered a CBI probe into Harpreet’s death on Friday and directed the agency to submit its report within four months. It also directed IGP K.K. Attri, who was conducting an inquiry into the matter, to submit all information collected by him to the CBI.

Most of the Akali ministers and some from the BJP have reportedly petitioned the chief minister to take a firm stand on the issue, keeping in view the Assembly elections slated for next year.

“The high court ruling cannot be taken lightly. It will erode popular support for Badal if the CBI probe pulls up the state government for not having acted promptly after Harpreet’s death. Badal must realise that he could be cornered by the CBI for having attended the cremation which, as circumstantial evidence proves, was conducted hastily,” a BJP minister said.

The ruling Akali leaders are not defensive either. Many feel that Jagir has become a liability, plunging them from one crisis to another. The issue is likely to be discussed at the party’s political affairs committee meeting this week.

According to finance minister Kanwaljit Singh, Jagir being the president of the SGPC, her daughter’s death was a matter of concern for the entire Sikh community. Any row linked to her, therefore, “should be laid to rest”.

Attri’s report, which was submitted to the high court recently, is reported to have mentioned that Harpreet was pregnant when she died. Non-government organisations following the case feel that Badal should resign for not ordering a probe immediately after Harpreet’s death.

Opposition parties, too, are demanding Jagir’s resignation. All India Shiromani Akali Dal leader Prem Singh Chandumajra said Jagir must resign to maintain the dignity of the SGPC. He added that Badal should have handed over the case to the CBI instead of waiting for the court to take the decision.

CPI secretary Joginder Dayal has demanded the resignation of Jagir and Badal. He said Badal could not continue as chief minister as he had allegedly tried to hush up the case. He also demanded the suspension of police officers, investigating the case for delay.

Badal, however, said he would abide by the high court’s decision to hand over the case to the CBI. He ruled out mid-term polls though he said his party would rise to the challenge if it came to that.    

Patna, June 11 
Stung by the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s (RJD) success in drawing attention to the Governor’s “role” in the assets case against Bihar’s first couple, National Democratic Alliance (NDA) leaders from the state have decided to meet the President next week.

An NDA team, led by Opposition leader Sushil Modi of the BJP, will inform the President of the RJD’s alleged “misinformation campaign” against the Governor. The alliance leaders will cite the “forged” letter with t