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Healing touch at sick bed

New Delhi, Sept. 22: Two more top BJP leaders rushed to ailing BSP leader Kanshi Ram’s bedside as his party appeared to be getting closer to the Congress under new president Mayavati.

BJP vice-president Madan Lal Khurana and general secretary Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi met Mayavati for 45 minutes at the private hospital in Delhi where Kanshi Ram is admitted.

This was the first meeting between leaders of the estranged Uttar Pradesh allies, the BJP and the BSP, since Mayavati broke away and resigned as chief minister in the wake of the Taj heritage corridor scandal.

The BJP leaders wished Kanshi Ram speedy recovery and congratulated Mayavati on her election as the national president of the BSP.

“We met Mayavati at the hospital when we had gone to see Kanshi Ram,” Naqvi said. “We wished him speedy recovery and congratulated Mayavati on her being elected party president.”

The party is apparently unnerved by the large turnout at Mayavati’s rally in Bhopal yesterday. It is also keen to prevent a Congress-BSP tie-up ahead of the Assembly polls later this year.

There were indications that the Congress leadership was thinking of forging a tacit understanding with the BSP in at least two states that would go to the polls.

But it was difficult to say whether the BJP’s belated gestures would soothe Mayavati’s ruffled feathers.

Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani had called on Kanshi Ram at the hospital and Union ministers Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley had wished him speedy recovery after Mayavati told the BJP to take a few lessons in Indian culture from Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.

Even Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had called on the ailing leader after the tirade.

Sonia, immediately on returning from an election tour, had rung up Mayavati and enquired after Kanshi Ram. She also sent a bouquet to the Dalit leader, who was admitted to hospital on September 15 after he suffered a severe brain stroke in Hyderabad.

Since Mayavati’s resignation, she has been attacking the BJP leadership. At the rally yesterday, she strongly criticised Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Two days before that, the former chief minister had blasted the BJP for not enquiring after Kanshi Ram.

Mayavati was unanimously elected BSP national president on September 18 at a meeting of the party’s central general body, a party release said.

The decision to convene the meeting to elect the presid- ent was taken by the party’s central executive committee, which had met under Kanshi Ram’s chairmanship in Lucknow on August 24.

The meeting, attended by state unit presidents and other office-bearers, also adopted a resolution praying for the speedy recovery of Kanshi Ram.

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