The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mayavati foes face number hurdle

Lucknow, June 8: Two days before chief minister Mayavati’s return, senior leaders of the Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Lok Dal, the Congress and other smaller Opposition parties met here today to plot her dismissal.

“The government has already lost majority in the House and continues at the mercy of a partisan Governor. But we are determined to expose their nefarious game,” said Samajwadi general secretary Amar Singh after the strategy session that was attended by his party chief, Mulayam Singh Yadav, RLD leader Ajit Singh, Rashtriya Kranti Party leader Kalyan Singh and state Congress chief Jagdambika Pal.

Kalyan Singh, who has played a key role in bringing the Opposition together, was full of bluster. He claimed that the Opposition had the numbers to form an alternative government. “Let the time come and you will see an exodus from the BJP,” he said.

Bravado apart, the united Opposition faces several hurdles before it can parade the MLAs supporting it before the Governor, or the President if the Opposition does not trust Vishnu Kant Shastri.

The Opposition’s first challenge is to keep the 14-member RLD intact. The resignation of party vice-president Rameshwar Singh yesterday and his claim that most MLAs were disenchanted with Ajit Singh indicate that the challenge is not imaginary.

Swami Omvesh, leader of the 11 MLAs tucked away in Srinagar, said over phone that the RLD legislators were yet to decide on their future course of action.

“We are discussing various options, but are yet to take a final decision,” clarified the legislator.

Even with the RLD intact, the Opposition can claim the support of only 190 MLAs against the BSP-BJP combine’s 212 in the House of 402.

“The combined Opposition will have to split either the BJP or the BSP to cross the half-way mark and this may be difficult with an unfriendly Governor and a partisan Speaker,” admitted a senior Congress leader.

After discussions lasting over an hour, Opposition leaders failed to come out with a specific plan of action.

“The manner in which Mayavati is using the government machinery to coerce legislators into supporting her and the refusal of the Governor to intervene has posed a serious threat to democracy itself,” the Samajwadi chief said after the meeting.

“We have now decided to go to the people’s court to build up mass pressure for the dismissal of the Mayavati government,” he added.

The leaders’ reluctance to an immediate trial of strength was indicated by Kalyan Singh, who parried questions regarding numbers.

“There is no point in our parading them (MLAs) because the onus of proving the majority is on the government after the RLD walked out of it,” he said.

To pre-empt the Opposition, BJP legislature party leader Lalji Tandon called on the Governor late last night and asked him not to accept any Opposition claim on face value.

“I have asked the Governor to verify from every MLA his loyalty before taking any decision,” Tandon told reporters.

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