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BJP decides to crack the whip in UP

New Delhi, Oct. 21: In a bid to quell growing dissidence within the Uttar Pradesh legislature party, the BJP has decided to crack the whip on legislators who refuse to fall in line and continue to speak out in public against the government.

“The party would like to enforce strict discipline,” BJP general secretary and spokesman Arun Jaitley said.

Jaitley told reporters that BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu had asked Kalraj Mishra, the central prabari in charge of Uttar Pradesh, to speak to the rebels.

“In case after he speaks to them, they persist with acts construed as acts of indiscipline, the party will take whatever action it considers necessary,” he said.

The decision to get tough with errant members was taken at a meeting of the BJP’s central office-bearers over the weekend in Mumbai. Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, who attended the meeting, reportedly emphasised the need for maintaining “high standards of discipline”.

Advani reportedly mentioned how a dissatisfied member from Uttar Pradesh had come to him after being denied a Cabinet berth in the latest round of expansion. The deputy Prime Minister ticked him off, saying he was such an old hand that he ought not to have come complaining at all.

Asked if some disgruntled members would be accommodated later, Jaitley said: “Expansion is another issue.” On whether the BJP would reconsider its alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Jaitley said: “The party stands by whatever decision it has already taken in UP. Our present decision is to be in alliance with the BSP.”

Party sources said what prompted the tough stand was the reading that most of the rebels were from the legislative council and not the Assembly. Therefore, their damage potential was not serious.

Although the Mumbai meeting did not specifically discuss divestment, Advani cautioned the office-bearers not to speak in different voices. “The result is that even if the government’s performance is good, the effect will be nullified if we use different voices,” he reportedly said.

Among major decisions taken at the meeting were to request the Centre to consider a) waiving, for at least a year, interest on loans given to farmers in regions affected by drought for two consecutive years; b) linking national rivers. Naidu is expected to meet the Prime Minister and Planning Commission members in this connection.

To corner the Congress government in Rajasthan, the BJP also decided to send a fact-finding team, headed by the party vice-president Gopinath Munde, to investigate reports of starvation deaths. “This is a matter of concern, particularly when large amounts of foodgrain have been sent by the Centre to the state,” Jaitley said.

The meeting also decided to extend the ongoing gaon chalo campaign and the membership recruitment drive till December 2002.

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