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Mayavati parades lone rebel

Lucknow, June 18: Chief minister Mayavati today paraded a “disenchanted” Samajwadi Party MLA before newspersons to substantiate her claim that 25 legislators from the party were in touch with her and ready to break away from Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Addressing the media from the basement of the chief minister’s office in Shastri Bhawan, the MLA from Tulsipur, Masood Khan, said he and 24 other MLAs were feeling suffocated.

The lone dissident seemed conscious of the need to avoid attracting the anti-defection law since a minimum of 47 MLAs are needed to cause a legally valid split in the 142-member Samajwadi legislature party. “But if my party leadership thinks that raising issues in the interests of the party is wrong, they are free to expel me,” Khan said.

The Samajwadi appeared unfazed by Khan’s volte face. “We have 142 legislators and it is natural that one or two among them might have some difference of opinion on any issue but we are one and there is no threat to the Samajwadi Party,” said Shiv Pal Singh Yadav, the party’s state general secretary.

Political observers saw today’s performance as part of the ongoing war of nerves between Mulayam and Mayavati. “It is not difficult for any of the warring groups to put up a lone MLA or berate his party. But this does not affect the numbers game,” said Ramesh Dixit, a Lucknow University political scientist.

“Mulayam had used a similar ploy when he sent 11 BJP dissidents to Raj Bhavan to find faults with the coalition government last November. They, too, had said they were not quitting the BJP but were speaking out in the interest of the party,” pointed out a BSP leader.

In his attack on the Samajwadi chief, Khan lashed out at him for joining hands with Kalyan Singh, “the destroyer of Babri Masjid”. But he was full of praise for Mayavati. “Mayavati sticks to what she says,” Khan said.

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