The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rebels fight defection slur

Lucknow, Nov. 20: Rebel legislators of the ruling BJP-BSP coalition in Uttar Pradesh have challenged the petitions moved against them under the anti-defection law.

In their reply to show cause notices served by Uttar Pradesh Speaker Kesari Nath Tripathi, the 10 BJP rebels said “sweeping allegations” had been made against them in a single petition and that it was filed without proper verification by BJP legislature party leader Lalji Tandon.

Tripathi has asked Tandon to reply to the objections by November 26. Arguments on the maintainability of the petition will be heard at 11 am on November 30 in the Speaker’s chamber.

The dissident legislators have obtained the Speaker’s permission so that their lawyers could remain present during the hearing and also argue on their behalf.

Later, talking to reporters, the BJP rebels said most of the allegations were based on newspaper clippings that were not admissible as evidence in a quasi-judicial court.

The respondents had also not been provided names of newspapers, the dates of their publication or a copy of the videocassette in the annexure to the petition.

The rebels denied that they had voluntarily given up the membership of the BJP as alleged in the petition and said the allegations made against them constituted a breach of House privilege and made the petitioner liable for action.

They claimed that the letter purportedly written by state BJP president Vinay Katiyar had been “forged” and that no BJP legislator had received any letter asking them not to propose the name of any Rajya Sabha candidate except Rajnath Singh and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

“If the letter is ‘genuine’ then action should also be initiated against those 10 legislators who proposed the name of industrialist Lalit Suri,” the rebels said. Suri’s name for the Rajya Sabha elections had been proposed by 10 BJP ministers and MLAs. Samajwadi Party MLAs had also proposed his name in another set of nomination papers.

In a related development, the rebel MLAs asked the Speaker to ensure their security during their visit to the Vidhan Sabha in connection with the hearing.

BSP rebel Jai Prakash Yadav, whose disqualification has been sought by BSP legislature party leader and chief minister Mayavati through another petition, has also challenging maintainability of the petition on similar grounds. The petition was moved when the MLA had called on the Governor and sought protection from violence on the MLAs opposed to the government.

The rebels also met Uttar Pradesh Governor Vishnu Kant Shastri and urged him to direct the government to stop victimising the legislators.

Citing the case of Raghuraj Pratap Singh – whose house in Pratapgarh was raided by the local administration on Tuesday night – they accused the state government of embarking on a political vendetta mission against MLAs who spoke against the chief minister.

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