Lucknow, Nov. 18: The Congress’ last-minute decision to stay away from the contest for the lone legislative council seat today bailed out chief minister Mayavati by helping the ruling combine’s Munna Singh Chauhan defeat Opposition nominee Yashwant Singh.
The photo-finish contest proved that the majority of MLAs was no longer with Mayavati as Chauhan could secure merely 194 votes in the 402-member Assembly.
But it also exposed the Samajwadi Party’s false claim that it could topple the Mayavati government without the Congress’ support in view of growing dissidence within the BJP.
Though somewhat deflated after the hype built by BJP dissidents and rebel Independents in his favour, Yashwant — who got 183 of the 377 valid votes polled — claimed that it was a moral victory for anti-Mayavati forces.
“I was not in the contest to become an MLC but to expose her claim that the BSP-BJP coalition enjoyed majority support in the Assembly,” he said.
Yashwant demanded that the President now intervene and direct the Uttar Pradesh Governor to call a special session of the House for holding trial of strength. The victory did bring a smile on the faces of the BJP and BSP leaders, but the results clearly indicated that Mayavati’s days are numbered, should the Congress pitch in the campaign against her.
The Opposition nominee’s kitty of 183 votes also indicated that at least 23 MLAs — mostly from the BJP — indulged in cross-voting against the ruling combine’s nominee. The Congress had 23 MLAs in the House and this tilts the balance against Mayavati’s 206 even if the two invalid votes are presumed to have been cast in her favour.
Smugly sitting in the driver’s seat, Congress leader Pramod Tewari said his party had decided to stay away from the contest because the Samajwadi and its allies did not consult it while fielding Yashwant.
“Yashwant Singh was neither a Congress candidate nor the candidate of the combined Opposition,” he said, adding that whenever a trial of strength is held on the floor of the House, the Congress will vote against the government.
While vociferous Mayavati-baiters like Raghuraj Pratap Singh described the Congress decision as “suicidal”, the Samajwadi’s reaction was somewhat subdued. “The Congress stand was unfortunate and is bound to send a wrong signal to the nation. But we still hope that the Congress will see reason sooner than later,” party leader Shivpal Singh said.
Apart from 24 Congress MLAs, participation in the hotly-contested election was near total. Even jailed legislators like Mukhtar Ansari, Atiq Ahmed, Dhananjay Singh, Madan Bhaiyya and Raja Bhaiyya were brought to the Assembly under heavy police escort.