The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Kalyan sends signal, Advani springs trio

New Delhi, April 28: With his political career at the crossroads, it emerges that Kalyan Singh himself sent feelers to the BJP and the Congress for merging his Rashtriya Kranti Party with either or having an electoral alliance.

According to sources in both the parties, the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister’s much-publicised meeting with BJP Rajya Sabha MPs Balbir Punj and Dinanath Mishra and swadeshi ideologue S. Gurumurthy was the result of the “discreet signal” from him to the effect that he was willing to make up if there was a quid pro quo. The “signal”, they say, was sent to deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani who used to be Singh’s patron until the last Lok Sabha elections when it was apparent that he worked against the BJP.

Advani is then believed to have put his three confidantes on the job. Punj and Mishra also owe their Rajya Sabha seats to Uttar Pradesh. But sources admitted it was inexplicable why Advani was willing to reciprocate Singh’s gesture after giving a clear impression that he was all for the alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party and “knowing well that Singh and Mayavati cannot co-exist”.

“May be he was worried that the BJP was getting eaten up by the BSP and may have got wiped out in the next elections,” sources said. “Singh was seen as the best bet.”

The project was meant to be kept “top secret”. However, the sources say, either one of the three players spoke to the press “in a bout of eagerness” or Singh’s opponents in the BJP got wind of it and “decided to spill the beans to the press to nip it in the bud”.

Once the news was leaked — to a Hindi daily in Lucknow — Singh went on the offensive and, according to Uttar Pradesh press reports, abused both Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Advani in a public rally at Deoria. Sources said the BJP was forced to issue an instant denial because the move was initiated allegedly without the Prime Minister’s knowledge.

According to BJP insiders, Singh’s imperative for patching up with his original family was the result of two factors. “One, an alliance with the Samajwadi Party would get him nowhere because he would have to live under Mulayam Singh Yadav’s shadow. Secondly, the last Assembly elections showed that while he could damage the BJP, he lacked the social base and organisation to sustain a party in the same way as Mulayam and Mayavati can,” they said.

The Congress indicated it was not too keen on tying up with Singh for the same reason. “He is chargesheeted in the Ayodhya demolition case and has to appear before the Liberhans Commission and the designated court hearing the case. We will have a hard time explaining to our minority voters why we aligned with him,” said Congress sources in Uttar Pradesh, refuting reports of a prospective alliance.

Congress treasurer and state in-charge Motilal Vora was evasive. “We have problems in aligning with like-minded parties to oppose the Uttar Pradesh coalition,” he said, declining to comment whether Singh’s party was “like-minded” or not.

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