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BJP Central leaders step on UP turf
- Advani to address Kanpur rally to get feel of ground

New Delhi, April 23: A high-level BJP meeting on Uttar Pradesh today decided it was time to make a more “serious” assessment of the coalition government with Mayavati.

The decision comes in the backdrop of the Uttar Pradesh chief minister’s recent controversial moves against the Samajwadi Party and to resurrect the state BJP’s own identity before the 2004 Lok Sabha polls.

The meeting, convened by BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu and attended by deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, proposed that Central leaders should play a more interventionist role in Uttar Pradesh rather than sit back in Delhi and get feedback from state leaders.

To this end, Advani will hold his first meeting with the state’s workers on April 26 in Kanpur, where he will also address a university convocation . “This interaction will hopefully give him a good idea of what the feelings on the ground are about the alliance with the BSP,” Uttar Pradesh BJP sources said.

For the record, BJP spokesman Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi repeated for the umpteenth time that the alliance would stay put. However, a section of the Uttar Pradesh BJP — which was not part of the coalition government — spoke of a “big disconnect” between the government and the party apparatus and how the alliance was being virtually rammed down its throat by the Delhi brass “for its own interest”.

Asked what the “interest” was, sources hinted at the Ayodhya case concerning the Babri Masjid demolition — which is being heard by a special trial court — and the “crucial” role the state government could play. “You are free to make your own inferences,” said a source. Besides Advani, Central minister Murli Manohar Joshi was named in the case.

Today’s meeting also discussed how to give a “distinct identity” to the BJP’s organisation in the state and not make it seem like a government appendage. It was decided that Naidu would visit Lucknow on May 18 to meet the heads of the district units and get their feedback on the government’s performance and how the party’s social base could be expanded.

Asked why this meeting was called — after all it was a foregone conclusion that the BSP alliance would remain — sources said: “The only difference is that this time we agreed that the government would be closely monitored.”

However, they clarified that this decision would not impinge on the conduct of Mayavati and her BSP ministers but that of the BJP ministers because there were reportedly several complaints against them allegedly misusing their office and running roughshod over party workers.

As for Mayavati’s announcement to probe the use of government discretionary funds by all former chief ministers — including herself and the BJP’s Rajnath Singh — the leaders decided to adopt a “wait-and-watch” attitude. “The only thing we all felt (was that) her actions should not seem like political vendetta,” said sources.

The BJP’s Uttar Pradesh representatives, including state minister Lalji Tandon, state party chief Vinay Katiyar and Rajya Sabha member Kalraj Mishra, were told that Advani would shortly meet Mayavati to discuss the problems of sugarcane growers.

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