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Accused Kalyan seeks fresh Ayodhya trial

Lucknow, Aug. 22: Kalyan Singh today urged chief minister Mayavati to issue a fresh notification for the trial of senior BJP leaders L.K. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and others in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

The former chief minister, an accused in the case registered against BJP and VHP leaders by the CBI, said he wanted the trial to be resumed so that “I can prove my innocence and bring the true facts before the court”.

Kalyan’s demand has pushed Mayavati’s coalition government on the backfoot as it is yet to take a clear stand on the issue despite a Supreme Court directive last month to clarify its position within eight weeks.

The trial has been held up since February last year after the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court ruled that the Uttar Pradesh government’s notification was technically defective.

The non-BJP parties have been demanding a fresh notification minus the lacuna so that the trial could continue. The previous BJP government headed by Rajnath Singh refused to do so unless specifically ordered by the court.

Ironically, Mayavati had joined the demand for a fresh notification and made it a part of the Bahujan Samaj Party’s manifesto for the Assembly elections.

Since taking over the BSP-BJP coalition government, Mayavati, however, has refrained from taking a clear stand on the issue, pleading that she was seeking legal opinion. Kalyan’s demand is bound to aggravate her embarrassment — especially in the context of the Supreme Court’s directive last month.

If Mayavati decides to go for a fresh notification, she is bound to meet stiff resistance from the BJP ministers when the matter is placed before the Cabinet, observers feel. A refusal to issue the notification, on the other hand, is bound to alienate her party’s Muslim supporters. It can also endanger the coalition, which enjoys the support of 15 Muslim MLAs.

Legal experts feel Mayavati cannot defer what is essentially a political decision behind the smokescreen of legal opinion. “The impugned order passed by Justice Jagdish Bhalla itself said that the lacuna was curable and the state government could issue a fresh notification,” pointed out a senior advocate.

The timing of Kalyan’s demand is significant as sports minister Uma Bharti, an accused in the case, met Mayavati today and reportedly discussed the government’s stand on the notification issue.

Apparently Kalyan, who has joined hands with Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh, is keen to pin down Mayavati on her tie-up with the “communal” BJP.

The Opposition’s stalling of Assembly proceedings for the past three days and its demand for the arrest of Gorakhpur BJP MP Mahant Avaidyanath under the anti-terrorism law are part of the same strategy.

Led by the Samajwadi Party, almost the entire Opposition has accused the Mayavati government of “shielding and encouraging communal elements” to protect her government.

Although Mayavati has refused to yield ground, she realises that by supporting a controversial Hindutva zealot like Avaidyanath, she could be alienating the Muslims.

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