The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Vajpayee steps in to douse revolt flames

Lucknow, Oct. 19: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will meet disgruntled BJP legislators during his two-day visit to Lucknow to bail out the revolt-racked Uttar Pradesh government, sources close to him indicated today.

The sources said Vajpayee agreed to meet the dissidents after he was told that the discontent over ministerial berths had assumed serious proportions and might threaten the Mayavati-led coalition government as some members were in touch with Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Despite efforts by some senior leaders to keep the lid on the growing dissent, 24 BJP legislators have come out against the leadership after missing out on berths in the last shuffle that took the Mayavati council’s strength to 79.

After a meeting here yesterday, the legislators said there was no point supporting the coalition government if the BJP did not get its share in the council of ministers.

The MLAs plan to meet Vajpayee tomorrow and request him to consider conditional, issue-based support to the Bahujan Samaj Party-led government.

BJP national president M. Venkaiah Naidu, however, criticised the dissidents. “The MLAs should avoid talking openly and public criticism is not in the interest of the party,” Naidu, who is in Mumbai to attend a two-day meeting of Central office bearers, said.

“The legislators should remember that the BJP is a member of a coalition government and they should discuss the issue with the state leadership, who in turn would settle it with the chief minister,” he said.

Mayavati is also facing trouble from the 15 Independent MLAs who, late last night, were on the brink of rebellion.

The Independents are clamouring for greater representation in the council of ministers and have given the chief minister time till October 25 to meet their demand.

“We are not bound to support her,” said R.K. Choudhary, one of the MLAs. “We will explore other options if she does not change her attitude.”

While their meeting was on, senior BJP leader and Mayavati confidant Lalji Tandon dropped in. Tempers ran high as the Independents sought quick solutions to their demand.

“We want to be consulted on policy decisions and that is possible only if we are part of the Cabinet,” said Dhananjay Singh, another Independent MLA.

Tandon, however, managed to calm down the Independents, for the time being at least. “The Prime Minister is not involved in this. This matter has to be sorted out by Mayavati. The MLAs are angry with her style of functioning and I will inform her of their grievances,” the urban development minister said.

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