The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Party eyes snap poll in UP

New Delhi, Dec. 19: The BJP is looking at snap polls in Uttar Pradesh as an option for overcoming dissidence in the party and other problems that have beset its coalition with the Bahujan Samaj Party, which was put in place just eight months ago.

The suggestion has emanated from the party’s leaders in Uttar Pradesh. Though the proposal is yet to be taken up by the central command, the option of a mid-term election is bound to figure in the discussion on Uttar Pradesh at the BJP national executive next week, according to highly-placed sources.

BJP sources admitted that the BJP-BSP coalition in the state is hanging by a slender thread, with as many as 10 of its 88 legislators revolting against the Mayavati government.

The government could fall if a no-confidence motion is brought when the Assembly is next convened, the sources added. Although the chief minister has steadfastly refused to convene the Assembly, she is bound to call the Budget session in March and it is then that the BJP expects “serious” problems to crop up.

“If an election has to be called, it would have to be before March, preferably in February when other states would go to polls,” said sources.

BJP sources conceded there is little chance of setting the Uttar Pradesh house in order, despite the euphoria of the victory in the Assembly polls in Gujarat.

Despite claims that the main spearhead of the dissidence, Ganga Bhakt Singh was coopted in the “mainstream”, the rebels said they would hold a meeting tomorrow in Lucknow to intensify their campaign.

One of them, Ramasheesh Rai, the convener of the “Save BJP Front” was quoted as saying in Lucknow: “We have decided to go to the districts to apprise people of the persecution of legislators who had raised a banner of revolt against the misrule of the Mayawati-led government.”

BJP sources also said the Delhi bosses, who were initially inclined to crack the whip against the “errant” MLAs and disqualify them under the anti-defection law, were now going slow for fear that such an “extreme” move may trigger more defections than contain them.

The rebels have complained about Mayavati’s “repressive” action against Independent MLA Raja Bhaiyya, now in jail.

The other consideration behind holding a mid-term poll is to “take advantage” of the BJP’s amicable relations with Mayavati who even campaigned for the party in Gujarat.

“Together we can get a comfortable majority and for five years we will not have to live under the threat of dissidence or the support of small parties who keep blackmailing us,” sources said.

There is little chance of Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and the Congress coalescing after fighting each other in Gujarat.

However, some in the BJP wonder if their upper-caste supporters would accept a full-fledged alliance with the BSP.

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