The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dissident dozen rock UP throne

Oct. 31: The Mayavati government was reduced to a minority today as 12 MLAs of her dissidence-racked coalition partner, the BJP, withdrew support.

A worried Atal Bihari Vajpayee deputed senior minister Murli Manohar Joshi to tackle the rebellion after a dozen BJP legislators met the Uttar Pradesh Governor and informed him of their decision, urging a special Assembly session to test Mayavati’s majority.

With their withdrawal, the coalition’s strength has dropped to 198, below the majority mark of 203. The government will not fall immediately because 12 rebel MLAs cannot enforce a split in the BJP without attracting disqualification under the anti-defection law, which requires at least one-third strength to be recognised as a separate entity. The BJP has 88 members in the House.

Mayavati went into a huddle with Speaker Kesari Nath Tripathi to discuss the legal implications of the development. Sources said coalition troubleshooters were weighing the option of the Speaker disqualifying the 12.

“The other option is for Mayavati to recommend dissolution of the House,” a source close to her said.

After it became clear that senior Uttar Pradesh leader Rajnath Singh and former BJP president Kushabhau Thakre had failed to quell the dissidence, the Prime Minister asked Joshi to do everything he can to save the Lucknow government because if it fell, there could be “trouble” in Delhi.

The move by the dozen MLAs followed suspension of a third BJP legislator, Kovid Kumar Singh, at a meeting presided over by Thakre.

But indications that something was afoot were available even earlier when the BJP rebels met Mayavati rival Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. The Yadav camp is meeting the Governor tomorrow with 165 MLAs to pressure him to dismiss Mayavati.

“Now that the government has lost majority, the Congress (26 MLAs) must decide and decide quickly,” said Yadav, whose party is also working on the dissidence-ridden 14-member Rashtriya Lok Dal.

Observers here predicted that more MLAs would join the BJP rebel group because its leader, Ganga Bhakt Singh, was not among the dozen that met the Governor. “At least two dozen MLAs are waiting to join us when the trial of strength is held,” Kovid Singh said.

The crisis erupted after Thakre refused to concede the rebels’ demands for revoking the suspension of Ganga Bhakt and one other leader and replacement of legislature party chief Lalji Tandon, who is close to Vajpayee.

Joshi is expected to share his assessment of the situation at a meeting of the BJP central election committee tomorrow.

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