Oct. 26: BJP trouble-shooters got more time to mollify rebels in Uttar Pradesh after Governor Vishnu Kant Shastri today ruled out asking chief minister Mayavati to prove her majority following last night’s withdrawal of support by some Independent legislators.
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and general secretary Amar Singh, however, intensified efforts to get Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s support for toppling the state government. But Congress sources conceded that this possibility has receded after Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee indicated his willingness to meet BJP dissidents.
“I have told them that the Prime Minister is ready to meet them to hear their grievances as and when they want,” said BJP national general secretary Rajnath Singh, who is in Lucknow to broker peace. “I am sure their misgivings will be removed in a short time.”
A late night PTI report, however, said that the dissidents had rejected the offer to meet the Prime Minister.
The immediate reprieve had come from the Governor. Despite the withdrawal of support by the Independents last night, the Bahujan Samaj Party-BJP coalition still had the backing of 210 MLAs in the 403-member House, Shastri said. He also pointed out that of the eight Independents, one — Kaushal Kishore — did not vote for Mayavati during the May 18 confidence vote.
In another setback to the Independents, Mithilesh Kumar, whose name was associated with those who met the Governor last night, today denied reports that he had withdrawn support to the coalition government. “My support to the Mayavati-led government will continue,” the Independent MLA from Shahjahanpur said in a fax message to Shastri.
The Independents are trying to rope in dissidents from Ajit Singh’s 14-member Rashtriya Lok Dal. “Three of the Independents could not come yesterday but have promised to join us,” Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiyya claimed. He confirmed he was in touch with dissidents in the BJP and the RLD, although Ajit Singh denied reports of “dissidence” in his party saying all the MLAs were “intact”.
BJP dissidents, too, geared up for a showdown and held a meeting in a hotel. Rebel spearhead Ganga Bhakt Singh claimed their number was growing. “We have already acquainted the Prime Minister with our grievances. It’s now time for action, not words,” he said.
Observers, however, do not expect the number of MLAs at Sunday’s dissidents’ meet to touch anywhere near the one-third mark to split the 88-member BJP. “Not till they are offered a secure haven elsewhere,” as a state BJP functionary put it.
In Delhi, the Samajwadi stepped up efforts to persuade Sonia to play the role of kingmaker.
Mulayam and Amar Singh have sought an appointment with the Congress president to seek her party’s crucial support. The Samajwadi leaders held talks with CPM general secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet and requested him to play mediator. Samajwadi sources said Mulayam, Amar Singh, Surjeet and CPM politburo member Sitaram Yechuri may call on Sonia either tonight or tomorrow.
Though initially reluctant, Surjeet is understood to have agreed to meet the Congress chief along with Samajwadi leaders. Amar Singh said Surjeet had spoken to Manmohan Singh and stressed the need for co-operation from the Congress.
Amar Singh also held talks with senior Congress leader Motilal Vora, the AICC general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh affairs. “The ball is in (the) Congress court,” he said.