The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mayavati wins a round but Amar persists

Lucknow, Oct. 28: Mayavati appeared to have won Round One but the battle for Uttar Pradesh is far from over.

The Uttar Pradesh chief minister earned a breather today with BJP dissidents failing to muster enough strength to split their party. However, challenger Mulayam Singh Yadav’s trouble-shooter has promised to return to Lucknow “for the next and decisive round within a day or two”.

“The dissidents lack the numbers required to topple the Mayavati government,” conceded Amar Singh, the Samajwadi Party general secretary.

The Samajwadi had summoned its legislators to Lucknow today for a meeting and a possible march to the Raj Bhavan to stake its claim. But the meeting was cancelled at the last minute, presumably because the party leadership could not achieve a breakthrough in the race for numbers.

“Wait for a day or two and you will see plenty of action,” Amar Singh told reporters this afternoon before returning to Delhi.

He had a luncheon meeting with the BJP rebels and potential dissidents today, but could not attract more than 18 BJP legislators to his table.

While the Samajwadi is impatiently waiting for Congress president Sonia Gandhi to show her cards, a relaxed state BJP chief Vinay Katiyar returned to his parliamentary constituency, Faizabad, in the evening.

The BJP dissidents also appeared to have toned down their voice. “We are ready for a patch-up, if Lalji Tandon is replaced as the leader of the BJP legislature party and all the BJP ministers resign to enable the party to support Mayavati from outside,” their suspended leader Ganga Bhakta Singh said.

Party insiders felt the turn of the events may have mitigated Mayavati’s woes for the time being but the turbulence has left the BJP permanently scarred.

“The dissidence was a reflection of the factional quarrel among senior party leaders from Uttar Pradesh and this is bound to be accentuated as all BJP satraps in the state have their godfathers in Delhi,” a senior party functionary admitted.

These differences resurfaced last Sunday when the party’s former state chief, Kalraj Mishra, and Tandon tried to corner general secretary Rajnath Singh on the issue of invitation to the dissidents to meet the Prime Minister. “I don’t know how this theory (that the Prime Minister had agreed to meet the dissidents) was floated without anybody’s prior knowledge,” Tandon said, questioning Rajnath’s authority.

Rajnath supporters feel that his detractors are using this issue as another ploy to humiliate the former chief minister. Rajnath’s camp was already feeling ignored by other state leaders whenever big decisions were taken by the BSP-BJP coalition. Rajnath’s opponents, however, claimed that most of the party rebels and some rebel Independents are known supporters of the former chief minister.

“The problem would have been resolved had the leadership acted on the first murmurs of revolt. But action was delayed because of Singh,” a senior BJP leader said.

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