The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This PagePrint This Page
BJP waves red card at heartland rebels

New Delhi, Nov. 1: The BJP has threatened to disqualify all the 12 legislators who “expressed their dissatisfaction” with the Mayavati government to stem defections from its Uttar Pradesh legislature party.

BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu said the Maharashtra option — where the Speaker disqualified some Nationalist Congress Party legislators at the request of its leadership as they did not form the one-third group required for a formal split — could be exercised in Uttar Pradesh.

As many as 30 BJP MLAs would have to break away to effect a split in the legislature party.

“The Maharashtra option can be used. Those who fall in line will not lose their membership. Whatever decision is taken will balance the stability of the government with the image of the party,” said Naidu.

The uncertainty over Uttar Pradesh cast its shadow on a high-level meeting of the party’s central election committee tonight. The meeting at the Prime Minister's residence was scheduled to finalise the names of candidates for the Rajya Sabha elections due on November 18.

A party spokesman said Naidu was authorised to decide the names, which would be made known in a few days. But sources said the BJP would wait for the fluid political situation to settle down before finalising the names.

Of the 10 vacancies, the BJP could win two on its own with 14 votes to spare. The party is bargaining for the Bahujan Samaj Party’s support as well as that of the other NDA partners to wrest the third seat.

The names of candidates doing the rounds were Rajnath Singh, Sunil Shastri and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

But a section of the Uttar Pradesh BJP is believed to be opposed to Singh’s candidature as it held him responsible for stoking the rebellion in the state.

That the BJP is seriously looking at the disqualification option for the rebels was apparent when Naidu went into a huddle this evening with party general secretary Arun Jaitley, an eminent lawyer, and Satyapal Jain, the former Chandigarh MP and also a lawyer.

Both gave a new interpretation to the 10th Schedule of the Constitution, which stipulates what constitutes a defection and under what circumstances political splits are formalised.

Jain argued that a “mere” one-third split in the legislative ranks was not sufficient to be deemed a split. It would have to be preceded by two other conditions: a one-third split in the party at the national level and a similar one at the state-level party. This interpretation virtually thwarts a split in any political party, particularly behemoths like the Congress and the BJP.

Quoting from a Punjab and Haryana High Court judgment, Jain said when the two-member BJP legislature party in Haryana broke away as one of them wanted to join the Congress, the court had ruled against the decision citing these two pre-conditions.

However, even a cursory reading of the Constitution makes it clear that a one-third split in the legislature party is enough to constitute a formal break up despite the BJP’s attempts to obfuscate the issue. Para 3 of the 10th Schedule says a split can be formalised “where a member of a House makes a claim that he and any other members of his legislature party constitute the group representing a faction which has arisen as a result of a split in his original political party and such group consists of not less than one-third of the members of such a legislature party”.

According to this provision, a claim of a split would be enough reason to test the ruling party\coalition’s strength on the floor of the House. The BJP had contended that unless the rebels withdrew their support in writing, the strength of the government could not be tested.

BJP sources said deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani has distanced himself from the crisis, saying he had nothing to do with the state.

BJP spokesman M.A. Naqvi today lashed out at the Samajwadi for trying to engineer defections in the party’s Uttar Pradesh ranks. “Blackmarketers and power-mongers have launched a major assault to capture power but they will not be allowed to succeed. Only two months ago, the Samajwadi had made all efforts to form a government and failed,” he said.

Though he claimed the BJP and the Bahujan Samaj Party were engaged in an “honest” effort to bring “social harmony and development, which is not to the Samajwadi’s liking”, within the BJP, a subtle blame-game has begun. Fingers are being pointed at legislature party leader Lalji Tandon for creating the mess and by implication, at the Prime Minister. Tandon is an Atal Bihari Vajpayee confidant.

However, last month, Advani shared a platform with Mayavati at a massive rally that was supposed to be a sign of a larger BJP-BSP alliance that would take shape before the Lok Sabha polls.

Email This PagePrint This Page