The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mayavati calls joint meeting

Lucknow, Sept. 2: In a studied move to sideline the BJP’s state leadership, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayavati today announced that she will address a joint meeting of the district level office-bearers of the BSP and the BJP on September 8.

“I want to bring the grassroots party workers of the two parties closer and plan to hold a joint rally of the coalition partners which will be addressed by deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani after the budget session,” she told reporters.

Like Mayavati’s joint address to the MLAs from all coalition partners at the beginning of the current session, the move has caught the state BJP leadership on the wrong foot.

At that meeting she had rebuked a section of the BJP MLAs who tried to raise their voice against her style of functioning, but their party leaders had no option but to back her.

“This is for the first time that the head of a coalition government has summoned party workers of other coalition parties,” said a state BJP functionary. However, he did not see how the state BJP leaders could object to the move.

The state party leaders are in a dilemma on the issue because they cannot afford to oppose the move or turn away from the exercise.

The BJP’s state unit is already in a fix over which MLAs it should include in the proposed party list for the Cabinet expansion that Mayavati has promised after the budget session.

It fears a rise in dissident activities after the exercise is completed since it is impossible to accommodate all aspirants in the expanded council of ministers.

But Mayavati hopes to bring them around by targeting their common enemy — Mulayam Singh and his Samajwadi Party.

She lambasted Mulayam for calling her pet Ambedkar Udyan as “a vice den” and exhorted the BJP and BSP workers of the state to give a fitting reply to “this affront to Dr Ambedkar and his followers” through the proposed rally in Lucknow on September 28.

“BSP leader Kanshi Ram and deputy Prime Minister L.K. Avani will address this Mahadhikkar (damning denunciation) rally,” she told a press conference today.

The chief minister parried questions about her government’s stand on the demand for Harit Pradesh by Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal. “I will make my stand public only when the RLD resolution comes up for discussion during the Assembly session,” was her cryptic reply.

While the BJP’s state leadership is wary about reacting to Mayavati’s announcements, a section within the party feels that the chief minister may be quietly developing her own network of patronage through direct contact with BJP activists at the grassroots level.

She is already meeting BJP legislators individually and they find her more obliging than “ever in the past”. By inviting BJP district functionaries for a luncheon meeting on September 8, she would be taking another step in this direction.

“No former BJP chief minister had called a meeting of the district level part functionaries. And here is a CM belonging to different party inviting them for discussions. It might give BJP workers the impression that the solution to their problems lay with Mayavati and not state BJP leaders,” a senior functionary of the party’s state unit said.

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