The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP strategy session

New Delhi, Aug. 29: The BJP will hold a day-long session on September 10 to discuss the political situation in the country, particularly in Uttar Pradesh and the poll-bound states.

The session in Bangalore comes in the aftermath of the fall of the BSP-BJP government and the changing political scenario following contacts between the Congress and the BSP in view of the forthcoming elections.

Party sources say Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav could scuttle Sonia Gandhi’s bid to become Prime Minister after the 2004 Lok Sabha polls if the Congress ties up with the BSP at the national level and emerges the single-largest party but without a majority.

There is already a growing impression that the BJP has facilitated the installation of a Samajwadi-led government in Lucknow after a tacit understanding between Mulayam Yadav and the BJP top brass.

The suspicion has been strengthened with Mulayam Yadav not trying to split the BJP though there are more than a dozen rebel MLAs in the party.

This was coupled with the presence, at the oath-taking ceremony, of defence minister and NDA convenor George Fernandes (whom the Congress continues to boycott in Parliament but the Samajwadi does not) and the governor giving Mulayam Yadav 14 days to prove his majority.

The Samajwadi chief evaded replying when reporters in Lucknow asked if the support extended by the Congress meant that he had accepted Sonia as the leader of the Opposition-led anti-BJP front.

On September 1, Mulayam Yadav is likely to be called upon by the Supreme Court to spell out where his government stands on the Rae Bareli trial in the Babri Masjid demolition case. Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and his cabinet colleagues Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti are among the accused.

Yadav also evaded replying when asked whether he would issue a fresh notification to pave the way for trial of three Union ministers. He said a decision in this regard will be taken after consulting other parties, including NDA constituents the Janata Dal (United) and the Samata Party.

The first thing the Samajwadi chief did today was to ensure the release of Rajput leader and Independent MLA Raja Bhaiya. The MLA was detained under the anti-terror legislation by Mayavati.

The BJP, which had adopted an ambiguous stand over the controversial arrest so far, promptly welcomed the step. BJP Uttar Pradesh chief Vinay Katiyar even went to the extent of asking Mulayam Yadav to order a probe why the anti-terror legislation was invoked in the case of Raja Bhaiya.

Now that it has discarded Mayawati and is recasting its political agenda, the BJP is planning a series of steps to woo the upper-caste Brahmins and Rajputs back to the party fold. Party strategists, emboldened by the ASI report which “confirmed” the existence of a temple at the site of the Babri Masjid demolition, said “serious efforts” will be made to build the temple.

The two-pronged strategy is calculated to benefit the BJP and the Samajwadi. The party expects Mulayam Yadav to react sharply to the Hindutva issues to polarise Muslim votes towards him.

If he takes a strident anti-BJP stand, the Muslims will gravitate towards him much to the chagrin of the Congress and the BSP, which will be considerably weakened after some of its legislators cross over to the Samajwadi. “The field should be open for the BJP and the Samajwadi, which suits both parties,” said a party leader.

BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said: “Dushmani jam kar karo, lekin ye gujnaish rahe jab kabhi ham dost ban jayen to sharminda na hon (Rivalry should leave scope for being friends again without being ashamed),”

Naqvi, however, did not elaborate who he had in mind: Yadav or Mayavati.

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