The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cong reverses role in hitback at Mulayam

Lucknow, Nov. 10: The Congress, which had initially supported the Mulayam Singh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh, today switched sides to play the role of the Opposition.

The leader of its legislature party, Pramod Tewari, moved an adjournment motion on the first day of the Assembly’s budget session to highlight the failure of the government in checking communal violence.

In another coordinated move, he also demanded that Speaker Kesari Nath Tripathi, who belongs to the BJP, be removed.

The Congress move has caught the ruling Samajwadi Party by surprise. But its minister Mohammad Azam Khan tried to play down the implications.

The Speaker reminded Tewari that his party was supposed to be an ally of the Mulayam Singh government. “There has been no precedent of an ally of the ruling party moving an adjournment motion against the government,” he said.

Tewari insisted that what he was doing was within the rules. After a heated exchange with the Speaker, the motion was taken for the debate.

Uttar Pradesh Congress leaders later alleged that though their party was the first to support Mulayam Singh, it was not consulted in any of the major decisions announced by the government headed by him.

They also staged a token dharna outside the House today to express their dissatisfaction with the state government.

The Congress attitude seemed to have little impact on the chief minister, who has already ruled out the possibility of an electoral alliance with the Congress in future. Replying to Tewari’s adjournment motion, Mulayam Singh said his government was committed to making Uttar Pradesh a model state and everybody should cooperate with it to put the derailed bandwagon of development back on tracks.

“I admit that efforts were made at some places to vitiate communal harmony but there had been no riots anywhere except in Aligarh where the situation became normal soon,” the chief minister added.

Significantly, it was not the BJP, the principal Opposition party in the state, but Mayavati’s BSP that joined hands with Congress leaders to attack the government. BSP legislators staged frequent walkouts to register their protest “against failure of the Mulayam Singh government on the law and order front”.

Former BSP minister Sukhdev Rajbhar openly accused the BJP of “entering into a conspiracy with Mulayam”. “Both the BJP and the Samajwadi are guilty of allowing the mafia to hijack the state and nobody is safe,” he said.

Leader of Opposition Lalji Tandon’s intervention in the debate was confined to a demand for immediate release of the BJP MP in Aligarh, Sheila Gautam, who had been arrested during recent disturbances in her constituency. Tandon sought Mulayam Singh’s personal intervention, but failed to draw any positive response from the chief minister.

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