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Since 1st March, 1999
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Arrest backlash on Mayavati

Jan. 27: Uttar Pradesh’s volatile politics seethed towards explosion point today after both rivals and allies slammed chief minister Mayavati for arresting Raja Udai Pratap Singh and slapping the anti-terror Act on him and his son Raghuraj Pratap.

While Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has sought Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani’s intervention to “stop (the) gross misuse of Pota for political vendetta”, state BJP chief Vinay Katiyar expressed reservations about Mayavati’s handling of the situation.

Ten BJP MLAs have asked legislature party leader and urban development minister Lalji Tandon to call an immediate meeting.

“The Act has been used in the most undemocratic manner and exposes the height of political vendetta. We request that it should be withdrawn and debate on the issue should be held in the Bharatiya Janata Legislature Party meeting,” said a letter written by Lallu Singh, BJP legislator from Ayodhya. Seven other MLAs and two MLCs signed it.

In Delhi, Mulayam demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the “conspiracy” hatched by a handful of IAS and IPS officers at the behest of Mayavati to “fix political opponents”. The Samajwadi chief claimed that weapons, including AK-56 rifles, allegedly seized from Raghuraj Pratap, alias Raja Bhaiyya, and his father were “planted” on them.

Raja Bhaiyya, a BJP-supported Independent MLA, has been in jail under the Gangster Act ever since he led the rebellion against the Mayavati government four months ago.

Matters came to a head on Saturday when Pratapgarh police arrested Udai Pratap. The 70-year-old was charged with conspiracy to eliminate Mayavati on Republic Day and detained under the anti-terror Act. Raja Bhaiyya and two of his supporters in jail — a rebel MLA and an MLC — have been named co-accused and the Act slapped on them, too.

Mulayam charged the Pratapgarh collector and the superintendent of police with having terrorist links and demanded that the CBI find out their links that enabled them to procure sophisticated weapons to “implicate Bhaiyya and his aged father”.

“The CBI should also inquire into the links of about 15-16 IAS and IPS officials who allegedly attended a meeting called by Mayavati to fix political opponents,” he said.

In his letter to the BJP Big Two detailing Mayavati’s “chain of repression”, Mulayam alleged that Raja Bhaiyya and his family were being victimised as “he dared to expose and oppose the undemocratic and corrupt BSP-BJP government”.

He said all party MPs and MLAs would meet the President to apprise him of the situation and if no action is taken, the Samajwadi would launch a countrywide agitation from February 1.

Asked about the reaction of state BJP leaders to the use of the anti-terror Act, Mulayam dismissed it as “part of a conspiracy”. “They are committing atrocities and trying to play the role of (the) Opposition simultaneously,” he said.

With the situation set to snowball, Pratapgarh police today slapped two fresh cases under the Act against Raja Bhaiyya, his father and the others, claiming that they had recovered a huge cache of arms, ammunition and explosives from the rebel legislator’s Kunda residence.

Additional superintendent of police Dinkar Sinha said in Lucknow that during Sunday’s raid, 13 swords, 12 guns, two old-model pistols, one carbine along with cartridges and one spring field rifle were recovered from the garden adjacent to the air strip in Singh’s Bhadri Palace residence.

Four briefcases containing jewellery amounting to Rs 1 crore and silver utensils valued at Rs 50 lakh were also recovered during the raid. “Apart from the Pota case, there are 44 criminal cases against Raja Udai Pratap Singh and his sons,” Pratapgarh police chief A.S. Ganesh said.

Mayavati justified the use of the anti-terror Act and dismissed the murmurs of resentment within the BJP. “Parliament has approved Pota and those opposing it can approach the same body to withdraw the Act. Vinay Katiyar is perhaps not aware of the facts following which Pota has been used against these four,” she said.

Observers feel the issue is likely to trigger another crisis for the Mayavati government that appeared to have got a temporary reprieve following the return of the party rebels.

“Mulayam Singh Yadav is bound to take advantage of this and try to incite further dissidence in the BJP legislature party, 28 of whose 78 MLAS are Thakurs,” said a state BJP functionary.

However, an unfazed Mayavati told reporters at a hurriedly called press conference late in the evening that her “government is not going to buckle down on the issue”. Sources close to her indicated that Mayavati was in touch with BJP central leaders, including Advani, and had told them that if the state leaders continued to pose problems, she might go in for snap polls.

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