The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Kalyan baiters at Atal door

New Delhi, April 30: Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee gave a “patient” hearing to the anti-Kalyan Singh lobby in the BJP today but refused to comment, party sources said.

Six Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha MPs, including Manoj Sinha, Shyam Bihari Mishra and Sheila Gautam, met Vajpayee to protest against moves reportedly initiated by a ginger group — believed to be close to deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani — to bring Kalyan back to the BJP.

Sources said the MPs tried to convince Vajpayee that Kalyan was primarily responsible for the party’s poll debacle in Uttar Pradesh because despite “Kargil sentiments”, the BJP’s tally went down by half.

The legislators also alleged that, as then chief minister, Kalyan had sabotaged their elections as well as Vajpayee’s in Lucknow by getting the state machinery to act against them. They also brought to the Prime Minister’s notice his depositions before the Liberhan Commission looking into the Ayodhya demolition, in which he reportedly held the Delhi brass responsible for the incident and described it as a “way of deceiving (the) Hindus”.

“Vajpayee’s non-committal attitude shows he is also waiting and watching and doesn’t want to outrightly reject any backroom manoeuvre to bring back Kalyan,” BJP sources said.

The sources claimed that though the move was “unilaterally” initiated by “old friends” of Kalyan, who comprised Rajya Sabha MPs Balbir Punj and Dinanath Mishra and swadeshi ideologue S. Gurumurthy, neither Vajpayee nor Advani were “averse” to it. “In politics, as in war, everything is fair. Both are seasoned enough to know that if Kalyan’s return would stem the BJP’s downslide in Uttar Pradesh, there’s no harm in welcoming him back,” they said.

But even Kalyan sympathisers feel that if at all there is any such move, he should be made to apologise unconditionally before being taken back.

Uttar Pradesh BJP sources said Kalyan, on the other hand, had laid down three pre-conditions to Punj and company — making him the party’s state chief in place of Vinay Katiyar, giving his companion Kusum Rai an official position in the party or government and rehabilitating his associates who had left the BJP with him.

Kalyan, said sources, was important in three ways: the BJP could cash in on his image as a pro-farmer and pro-backward caste leader as well as an “able administrator” when he was twice chief minister, thwart a prospective tie-up between him and the Samajwadi Party and/or the Congress and use him as a counter to chief minister Mayavati.

Samajwadi sources admitted to being worried with reports of a Kalyan-BJP rapprochement. A Lok Sabha MP from western Uttar Pradesh said: “An alliance between Samajwadi and Kalyan would mean winning at least 50 of the 80 seats. There is no better way of consolidating the backward caste votes.”

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