The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mulayam trap on BJP menu

New Delhi, Aug. 26: The BJP is veering round to the view that the Uttar Pradesh Assembly should be placed under suspended animation rather than dissolved and elections called within the mandated six months.

This view — described as a “compromise formula” — gained ground after divergent perceptions surfaced at a meeting called by the Prime Minister this morning.

The central leaders — including A.B. Vajpayee, his deputy L.K. Advani and M.M. Joshi — reportedly kept their counsel to themselves and allowed the Uttar Pradesh contingent to speak. Sources said Union agriculture minister Rajnath Singh and Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Vinay Katiyar argued in favour of an alternative government but Kalraj Mishra and Lalji Tandon felt central rule was the “best bet”.

The leaders concluded that to maintain the veneer of democracy, it was best to put the Assembly under suspended animation and allow the single largest party — the Samajwadi Party — to play out its hand. Shortly after the meeting, Samajwadi leader Mulayam Singh Yadav staked claim to the government.

“The BJP is not enthusiastic about forming a government, so any option will suit us whether it is dissolution and governor’s rule or suspended animation. Suspended animation will enable the exploring of other possibilities so that no one can level charges that the Constitution was side-stepped,” Mishra said.

Sources said the arguments for keeping the Assembly under suspended animation are:

The Srinagar inter-state council meeting starting tomorrow. A dissolution straightaway may have provoked the charge that the federal character of the Constitution was not respected

It could lead to a split in the BSP, regarded a “greater evil” by the BJP than the Samajwadi after the acrimonious “divorce”

BJP sources were clear that Mulayam would “not dare” poach on their ranks because “of the unstated understanding that we will not erect obstacles in his way if he was serious about installing another government”. On the other hand, the sources said, nothing would be “more joyous” for the BJP than to see Mayavati’s flock deserting her.

Allow Mulayam to deal with the law and order situation that could arise when the VHP launches its campaign to “reclaim” the Ayodhya land on the basis of the ASI report in Allahabad High Court’s custody

“A high-pitched VHP campaign would embarrass the Centre if Uttar Pradesh was under President’s rule because it would have to deal with the fallout. This way Mulayam can face the music,” said sources.

The political spin-offs of the VHP’s programme, the BJP believes, will benefit it in the long run as Mulayam would be forced to take a confrontationist posture to appease his “minority vote-bank”

However, the Uttar Pradesh BJP has begun preparing for an election. A meeting of its MPs and legislators has been convened in Lucknow on September 5.

Katiyar will flag off a campaign similar to the VHP’s for a Ram temple in Ayodhya.

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