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A crisis brews, another subsides
Mulayam vs governor

Lucknow, Jan. 10: Mulayam Singh Yadav and the Raj Bhavan were locked in a standoff tonight over the right to convene the Assembly, fuelling speculation that the Uttar Pradesh chief minister wants to force the Centre’s hand and transform himself into a martyr in the run-up to elections.

Governor T.V. Rajeswar, who has had many a run- in with the Samajwadi Party government in the past, stunned Mulayam this morning by proroguing the House that had officially finished its winter business on January 3.

However, in the evening, a constitutional crisis seemed to be building up with the government announcing that it would ignore the governor’s advice and go ahead with last night’s decision to reconvene the House for a trial of strength.

Ironically, the governor activated the state government’s own recommendation to disband the winter session. Such a recommendation was sent by the government on January 3, when Mulayam had no inkling that Ajit Singh was about to torment him.

The political weather changed between January 3 and 9 as Ajit pulled out three ministers and kept his options open. In a bid to avert more desertions, Mulayam late last night got the cabinet to pass a resolution to “resume” the “continuing winter session”.

The chief minister, who has majority support even now, wants to prove his strength on the floor of the House and convince his remaining allies, especially 10 Independents, that the vessel is still afloat.

This morning, the governor wrote to the chief minister, saying a fresh session would have to be called — with a 14-day notice. Also, a new session must start with the governor’s address.

Samajwadi leaders fear that if a House session is delayed for 14 days, their numbers could erode.

After another cabinet meeting this evening, the chief minister said: “The governor’s letter (cancelling the session) was placed before the cabinet. After going through the note from the governor, it has stuck to its resolution taken late last night.”

Samajwadi general secretary Beni Prasad Verma termed the governor’s decision “unconstitutional and unprecedented” and warned that his party would take to the streets if its government was dismissed.

He also urged the governor to withdraw his objection and avoid a crisis. The Samajwadi claimed it had the support of 225 MLAs — including 16 of the restive Congress — in the 402-member House.

Constitutional experts said the Centre would have little option but to dismiss the government if it convened the Assembly without the governor’s permission.

Observers feel Mulayam could be playing for such an eventuality. Under attack on several fronts and bereft of a plank, the Samajwadi hopes to cash in on what is foresees as a sympathy wave if the Mulayam government is dismissed by the Congress-led Centre.

On the flip side, sources in the Congress, BJP and the Bahujan Samaj Party sounded a bit relieved at the prospect of going to elections under a non-Samajwadi dispensation. “Even if President’s rule means Congress rule by proxy, it’s a lot better than having Mulayam around,” a BJP leader said.

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