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Taj gun trained on Jagmohan

Lucknow, July 28: Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayavati today asked Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to sack Jagmohan after accusing the Union culture minister of using the Taj corridor controversy to tarnish her image.

Mayavati’s harshly-worded letter to Vajpayee threatened that her party MPs would expose Jagmohan’s “political conspiracy” in Parliament tomorrow if he is not shown the door immediately.

State BJP leaders described Mayavati’s move as “over reaction”, but BSP sources said she wanted to make it clear that she would dictate the terms of the party’s alliance with the BJP in Uttar Pradesh.

The chief minister made no effort to conceal that her demand was prompted by political considerations and accused Jagmohan of conspiring with her rivals.

“My well-wishers and partymen have reason to believe that Jagmohan is in league with my political opponents and is trying to create a Centre-state confrontation to develop cracks in the BSP-BJP coalition in Uttar Pradesh,” she said.

The BSP leader hastened to add that her stand would not have any immediate effect on the state’s ruling coalition. Political observers, however, said it was a calculated move to wriggle out of the alliance with the BJP. “Mayavati is piqued at the way some BJP MLAs in Uttar Pradesh have been confronting her government and openly defying it. If and when the ruling coalition collapses, she wants to put the blame on the BJP,” they said.

A senior BJP leader conceded that this could be the first step towards ending the coalition and she might demand her pound of flesh more frequently and more aggressively in future. “She seems to be preparing the ground for the final parting of ways,” said the BJP leader.

Work on the Taj corridor project had been going on with the patronage of Jagmohan and a section of state bureaucrats working as puppets of Opposition parties, Mayavati claimed at a hurriedly-convened news conference here.

“My government stopped the work the moment I came to know of it and ordered an inquiry. We have even suspended an officer of the rank of principal secretary for the lapse. But what has Jagmohan done'” she asked.

The chief minister pointed out that a senior Archaeological Survey of India official posted in Agra “less than half a kilometre from the Taj” was attending all the meetings of the Mission Management Board monitoring the Taj corridor project. “Kya woh Kumbhakaran ki tarah so rahe the (Were the ASI officials sleeping like Kumbhakaran)'” she asked.

Inaction by the ASI and Jagmohan only proved that “they were involved in the ongoing work which was going on with their patronage”, she claimed. “How can the ASI now claim that it had no knowledge of the work going on since December 3, 2002' And if the ASI officials kept him in dark, what action has Jagmohan taken against them'” asked the BSP leader.

Mayavati alleged that the absence of any objection to the ongoing work from either the ASI or the Union culture minister was proof of their complicity. “Jab apko sab bata doongi to CBI to kya bataoongee (If I tell you everything, what will I tell the CBI)'” she asked, when urged to substantiate her allegations.

The chief minister resented Jagmohan’s alleged attempts to create the impression that only he and his ministry were concerned about protecting the historic monument, while the state government was not. “This is a reflection on my government and Jagmohan knows it. He had himself gone for tree plantation in the vicinity of the Taj to improve the environment around it,” said her letter to the Prime Minister.

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