The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cong isn’t willing, neither are BJP rebels

Oct. 30: The Congress today formally voiced Sonia Gandhi’s misgivings on allying with Mulayam Singh Yadav to topple Mayavati, compelling BJP dissidents to announce that withdrawing support to the BSP-led government was not on their agenda now.

Reflecting the mood gauged by Sonia when she met scores of party workers in Varanasi yesterday, the Congress declared that the situation in Uttar Pradesh does not warrant any “pro-active” role by the party.

“There is no fresh development in Uttar Pradesh. The Congress leadership is waiting and watching. However, the situation does not warrant any pro-active role on our part,” AICC spokesman Anand Sharma said.

He added that the party would formulate its response, if the Mayavati regime falls due to its “inner contradictions”.

The Congress’ lukewarm response deals a decisive blow to the Samajwadi Party’s efforts to topple the Mayavati regime and highlights Sonia’s plans to go it alone in Uttar Pradesh as well as states like Gujarat which are heading for Assembly polls.

Mulayam, his party colleague Amar Singh and CPM leader Harkishen Singh Surjeet had called on Sonia on Saturday but the Congress president did not give any assurance.

The Congress’ formal response had an immediate fallout on the ground with the BJP dissidents saying they had no intention to destabilise the Mayavati government.

“Our primary concern is to save the honour of the legislators and highlight nepotism and favouritism of a coterie in the party’s Uttar Pradesh unit,” dissident leader Ganga Bhakt Singh said.

His comments came as the BJP sent its former president Kushabhau Thakre to Lucknow to take over the salvage operation from former chief minister Rajnath Singh and former state party chief Kalraj Mishra.

Accompanied by three BJP dissidents and two Independents who had deserted the Mayavati camp last week, Ganga Bhakt called on Governor Vishnu Kant Shastri this afternoon.

Instead of demanding a trial of strength in the House as eight Independents had done earlier, today’s petition was confined to seeking the Governor’s protection against police harassment. “The government is misusing the police machinery to terrorise the MLAs into submission and you must direct them to desist from indulging in political vendetta,” a memorandum submitted by Ganga Bhakt said.

The petition warned that “if the persecution continues, we will be compelled to take our battle to the streets”. The state government had registered cases against several dissidents over the last three days.

The state government tonight said that the police action was not related to the dissidents’ political activities but based on specific complaints.

An official statement issued in Lucknow said the action against the legislators had “no political motive”.

The statement detailed the charges against MLAs Raja Ram Pandey (the Samata Party), Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiyya and Dhananjay Singh (Independents) and Puran Singh Bundela (the BJP). Pandey and Raja Bhaiyya were among those who met Shastri during the day.

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