Aug. 26: Uttar Pradesh settled in for a long night of hard bargaining as the governor asked Mulayam Singh Yadav to submit by tomorrow a list of legislators supporting his claim to form an alternative government.
Mulayam Singh claimed the backing of 190 legislators, including some Independents and those belonging to a string of one-MLA parties. That leaves the Samajwadi Party leader 12 shy of the majority mark — 202 — and makes over 10 Independents who are with Mayavati and two from the Loktantrik Party prime targets for poaching.
Governor Vishnu Kant Shastri sent a letter to Mulayam Singh after Mayavati resigned as chief minister and recommended dissolution of the Assembly for fresh elections.
Before Mayavati put in her papers, Mulayam Singh, whose party is the largest single group with 142 members in the 403-member House, met the governor and staked claim to form a government.
The governor’s letter has asked Mulayam Singh to give the party affiliations of the MLAs whose support he claims and a statement from them. The governor has also cancelled the budget session of the Assembly, scheduled to begin from tomorrow.
By the evening, the Congress shrugged off its initial reluctance and said its 16 MLAs would support Mulayam Singh.
Like Mayavati’s flock, the BJP, too, is not raid-proof. Former chief minister Kalyan Singh, who has several friends in his old party, is said to be working on restive MLAs in the BJP. Mayavati added to the BJP’s discomfiture by claiming during the day that 40 of the party’s MLAs are ready to switch sides. The BJP has 87 MLAs and a formal split will require the support of at least 29 members.
Mulayam Singh’s right hand Amar Singh said the Samajwadi and its allies would discuss how to respond to the governor’s letter tomorrow morning. Soon after flying in to Lucknow this afternoon, Amar Singh went about the business of mobilising support for Mulayam Singh. “The number of our supporters is increasing every hour,” Amar Singh claimed.
The BJP is now veering round to the view that the Assembly should be kept in suspended animation to ensure that contenders like the Samajwadi inherit a crown of thorns. ( )
For the record, the BJP said it is not keen on a Samajwadi government. “Last time also, the governor had asked for a similar list, but the Samajwadi had then taken the stand that the question of support should be decided on the floor of the House and not in the Raj Bhavan,” BJP legislature party leader Lalji Tandon said.