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Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP in terror law trap

New Delhi, Feb. 3: Bahujan Samaj Party chief Kanshi Ram has summed up the BJP’s dilemma on the Mayavati government’s use of the anti-terror law.

In an under-reported statement, Kanshi Ram spoke of how the BJP never dreamt it would be used against Hindus, and fairly prominent ones at that, because in its political scheme the Act was meant only for “Islamic terrorists”.

Underlining the dilemma was the irony that of the two chief ministers who “expanded” the ambit of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, one is a prospective ally and the other a partner in government.

Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa had earlier used the law to book MDMK leader Vaiko, who is, incidentally, a BJP ally.

Now, rebel Uttar Pradesh legislator Raghuraj Pratap, alias Raja Bhaiyya — who was made a minister for supporting the earlier Rajnath Singh government — has been charged under the Act. His father, Raja Udai Pratap Singh, has also been detained.

BJP chief M. Venkaiah Naidu’s reaction to the Raja Bhaiyya episode proved how difficult it is for his party to take sides. “These are small, small problems, but talking outside doesn’t help,” he said in an interaction with the press today. The BJP’s entire Uttar Pradesh unit, including “pro-Mayavati” leaders like Kalraj Mishra and Lalji Tandon, has reportedly criticised the use of the anti-terror Act against the MLA.

The Uttar Pradesh leaders are apprehensive that the party’s upper-caste supporters — especially those wielding muscle power like the Thakurs, Jats and Gujjars — would desert it for Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party.

Rajnath, a Thakur like Raja Bhaiyya, spearheaded the protest against the chief minister. According to these leaders, while Mayavati would gain with gestures like putting the MLA behind bars, attaching his properties and renaming a lake he had forcibly usurped as Ambedkar Bird Sanctuary, the BJP could lose everything.

“For the Dalits and the most backward castes, every time Mayavati takes on a Rajput or Jat, her heroic stature gets reinforced. Things are so bad for us that Rajnath Singh will not dare to enter a Thakur-dominated area. He will be heckled and thrown out,” said state BJP sources.

That Mayavati, and not the BJP, has emerged as the gainer has been proved by the fact that aspiring allies like the breakaway Congress group and the Apna Dal gravitated towards her. By the BJP’s own admission, “they saw her as more capable of delivering the votes for them in a future election than us”.

“It is Mayavati’s 21 per cent captive Dalit vote-bank that holds the key to her success,” said a Rashtriya Lok Dal leader, also a “reluctant” ally of the BJP-BSP coalition. The Lok Dal had slammed Mayavati for arresting Raja Bhaiyya, but as this leader put it, “We have to lump all this until the next Lok Sabha elections.”

Central BJP sources, too, conceded that despite the pressure from Lucknow, the Prime Minister and the deputy Prime Minister were “determined” that the Uttar Pradesh experiment should continue till 2004. “Because, if we have to pick up at least 15 extra seats from Uttar Pradesh, we can’t do it without Mayavati’s votes,” said sources.

The use of the anti-terror Act against Raja Bhaiyya has also upset the Samajwadi’s apple cart.

When the Mayavati government refused to issue a fresh notification for reviving the Babri Masjid demolition cases against L.K. Advani and the others, it looked as though the BSP’s Muslim voters would move away. But after Kanshi Ram’s political statement about the use of the anti-terror Act, this might not happen.

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