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UP rivals trade attack charges

Lucknow, Feb. 23: Mud-slinging in Uttar Pradesh politics reached a new low today with Speaker Kesari Nath Tripathi claiming that a plot has been hatched to attack him during the coming session and the Opposition accusing Tripathi of planning to engineer violence.

Indicating that his party will not cave in despite Mayavati’s blatant misuse of state machinery against her opponents, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav asked police officers and bureaucrats “not to obey” the chief minister’s orders.

“You have vowed to abide by the Constitution and protect it. Do not tarnish your glorious traditions by committing atrocities on the Opposition on the orders of a corrupt, unjust… Mayavati government,” Mulayam Singh said.

Tripathi said the unprecedented security arrangements for the Assembly budget session beginning on February 28 were necessary in view of intelligence reports that some Opposition MLAs planned to resort to violence and “there is threat to my life”.

“I have told an all-party meeting about these arrangements,” added the Speaker.

The special security arrangements include installation of a baggage inspection system and X-ray machines at the entrance of the Vidhan Sabha in line with the new practice introduced for MPs after the militant attack on Parliament.

“If need be, we have been authorised to frisk them. No MLA will be allowed to carry briefcases or bags inside the house,” a senior police official said.

Security officials said some legislators had managed to enter the House with cycle-chains tied to their legs in 1993 and used them with lethal effect, injuring 36 MLAs, including Tripathi.

Similar security lapses were revealed after the October 1997 violence in the House that left the then leader of Opposition, Dhani Ram Verma, and 50 others bloody and battered.

The Opposition has reacted strongly to the security arrangements and accused Tripathi and Mayavati of creating a fear psychosis among legislators.

“The BSP MLAs had created a ruckus in both the violent incidents… and we fear that she may stir up trouble to avoid facing trial of strength in the House,” Congress leader Pramod Tewari said.

Mohammed Azam Khan of the Samajwadi endorsed his view.

“Mayavati wants to stifle all democratic institutions and this will only force the Opposition to take their fight to the streets.”

Khan ridiculed Tripathi’s claim that his life is in danger. “A Speaker who fears threat to his life from the members of the House has no moral right to preside over it,” he said.

He demanded that Tripathi offer himself for frisking before humiliating the MLAs. “If his present conduct is any indication, he is likely to stir up trouble himself.”

Both Tiwari and Khan insisted that Tripathi should not preside over the House when the no-confidence motion against him comes up for discussions on March 4.

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