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UP focus on Independents

Lucknow, Oct. 24: The political temperature in Lucknow hovered near boiling point with Rajnath Singh and Amar Singh descending on the capital ahead of tomorrow’s crucial meeting of 16 Independent MLAs.

The legislators, led by the BJP-backed Raghuraj Pratap Singh aka Raja Bhaiyya, look set to switch sides after the meeting.

While the BJP has fielded the former chief minister to persuade the mercurial Raja of Kunda to stay with the ruling coalition, Amar Singh is trying to make sure that Rajnath cannot exploit the Thakur factor.

Sarkar daldal men phansee hai aur apne aap dhans jaayegee (The government is trapped in the marsh and will sink on its own),” the Samajwadi Party general secretary said after meeting Raja Bhaiyya and other Independents.

Rajnath’s arrival failed to rein in BJP dissidents, who remained firm that the party should pull out of the Mayavati government and support it from outside instead.

“We are not hankering for posts but want to save the party from its own power-brokers in Uttar Pradesh,” said Ramashees Rai, spokesman of the newly formed BJP Bachao Samiti after an informal meeting of the rebels.

Although state BJP chief Vinay Katiyar kept up a brave face and said he was hopeful the crisis would be resolved in a few days, BJP sources said neither stick nor carrot could contain the discontent for long.

The sources dismissed Katiyar’s charge that the dissidence was a Samajwadi Party conspiracy.

“Those spearheading the rebellion are old RSS hands and not neo-entrants who have jumped on the BJP bandwagon after it came to power,” a senior state BJP leader pointed out.

The Samajwadi general secretary laughed off Katiyar’s charge that his arrival on the scene would trigger horse-trading. “Why should Katiyar blame others if he cannot keep his stable in order'” he quipped.

Amar Singh was also in touch with Rashtriya Lok Dal legislator Samarpal Singh, who was today suspended by Ajit Singh for publicly demanding the party’s withdrawal from the Mayavati-led coalition.

As most MLAs appear unhappy with Ajit Singh for the preference shown to first-time MLA and PWD Minister Anuradha Chaudhary, the Samajwadi is hoping Samarpal will be able to split the 14-member party.

Political observers feel the numbers game is likely to remain hazy for a couple of days, with both the BJP and the Samajwadi camps claiming majority support.

“This will crystallise only after the Congress shows its cards,” said a BJP rebel. He pointed out that without the of the 25 Congress MLAs, Samajwadi could not offer a credible alternative even if the dissidents wanted to switch sides.

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