The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Advani calms fuming Mayavati

New Delhi, Feb. 9: Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani today assured Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayavati that state BJP leaders would be asked not to speak out of turn on the coalition government and keep their counsel to themselves.

Sources said Advani, who had a one-to-one meeting with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader this morning, also promised her that the Uttar Pradesh unit would not be allowed to jeopardise the alliance which, he said, would be a “long-term” one.

The chief minister later told reporters that she had brought to his notice the fact that state BJP leaders were repeatedly criticising her policies and that did not augur well for the coalition. If there were problems, these could be mutually sorted out, Mayavati said she told Advani.

The deputy Prime Minister told her he would soon convene a joint meeting of the BJP and the BSP, which could lead to the formation of a formal co-ordination mechanism.

Before this, BJP sources said, Advani will meet leaders in Uttar Pradesh, including state party chief Vinay Katiyar and general secretary Rajnath Singh. Katiyar and Singh were the most vocal in slamming Mayavati for using the Prevention of Terrorism Act against Independent MLA Raja Bhaiyya and his father — the episode that proved to be the flashpoint.

At today’s meeting, the sources said, the chief minister explained to Advani the circumstances leading to the controversial arrest and the situation that followed. They added that the party brass was keen to retain the BSP until the next general elections to recover ground in Uttar Pradesh and pick up more seats.

A recent survey, which projected the BJP’s position in case of a snap poll, revealed that alliance with the BSP would alone ensure an overall tally of more than 320.

On her part, Mayavati sought to keep the central leaders in good humour by welcoming the move to ask the Supreme Court to expedite the hearing on the Ayodhya stay order. Her response was considered to be the most important by the BJP, keeping in mind that if the VHP begins an agitation in Ayodhya, the onus of handling its activists would largely be on Mayavati.

The large-scale reshuffle of the BJP organisation, slated to take place shortly, is likely to see Katiyar being replaced as state party chief and a more “Mayavati-friendly” person brought in, while Singh could lose his responsibility as the prabari (in-charge) of Uttar Pradesh.

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