The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mayavati firm on terror case

Lucknow, Feb. 1: The Uttar Pradesh government has converted ponds in Independent MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh’s property into a national bird sanctuary.

The sanctuary in Raja Bhaiyya’s Kunda — a lake used for commercial fishing — has been named the Baba Bhim Rao Ambedkar-Beti Bird Sanctuary.

A government spokesman said the lake, from which a skeleton was recovered last week, would be developed as an international wildlife spot to attract tourists.

Chief minister Mayavati today justified slapping the anti-terror law on Raja Bhaiyya and his 74-year-old father and clarified it would not be withdrawn despite protests from Uttar Pradesh BJP leaders such as Rajnath Singh, Kalraj Mishra and Vinay Katiyar. “It is for the BJP to decide its course of action,” she said.

Mayavati lashed out at the “manuvadi propaganda” that some in the BJP, the Congress and the Samajwadi Party had launched against her.

The chief minister ruled out an immediate expansion of her Cabinet to accommodate MLAs of the breakaway Congress group, though sources said she was waiting for more Congress MLAs to cross over to her Bahujan Samaj Party.

Mayavati has reportedly already secured the resignation of a dozen BSP ministers for an imminent Cabinet expansion. “You are in for another surprise,” she said, claiming that 24 Samajwadi MLAs were in touch with her.

The number, however, does not constitute the minimum one-third needed to split the 142-strong Samajwadi Legislature Party. Sources, however, ruled out the possibility of a split in Mulayam Singh Yadav’s party in the near future.

The sources said Mayavati was trying hard to break smaller parties in the Opposition camp such as Kalyan Singh’s Rashtriya Kranti Party and Sonelal Patel’s Apna Dal.

The exertions are aimed at helping her sail through the budget session — when she may face a no-trust vote — for Mayavati has indicated that she is unwilling to yield ground to either the Congress or the BJP.

Her decision to field BSP candidates in the bypolls to Gauriganj and Haidergarh, which the BJP, too, is contesting, clarifies her stand.

“We (Bahujan Samaj and BJP) had agreed to fight only the Lok Sabha elections together,” Mayavati said.

The subtle shift in Mayavati’s politics has made state BJP leaders sit up. “The two parties had fought the last elections together and we were hoping that a similar understanding would be reached this time also,” said senior BJP minister Lalji Tandon, after failing last night to persuade Mayavati otherwise.

The bypolls to Gauriganj Assembly seat in Sonia Gandhi’s Amethi constituency and adjoining Haidergarh, earlier held by former chief minister Rajnath Singh, have acquired special significance in the context of the changing political equilibrium in the state.

Ever since Mayavati took over, Rajnath and his Thakur supporters have been at the receiving end of her fire. Those who dared revolt -- such as Raja Bhaiyya, the former prince of Kunda -- have been dealt with ruthlessly.

Bahujan Samaj’s decision to contest Haidergarh might have been triggered by anger, but the move to fight Congress-held Gauriganj is aimed at challenging Sonia’s authority in the area.

By contesting both seats, Mayavati hopes to show that her party’s dominance of Uttar Pradesh politics remains unchallenged.

While exposing the chinks in the BJP-Bahujan Samaj coalition, the coming bypolls have also emphasised the cracks in the state Opposition. The Apna Dal, a member of the Samajwadi-led group, for instance, has fielded its own candidates for the bypolls.

“Multi-cornered contests suit the Bahujan Samaj the best as it is the only party that has consistently increased its support base in successive elections. And now the party is financially more sound than ever and the morale of its workers is at a peak,” a Bahujan Samaj member said.

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