The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mulayam turns heat on Speaker

Lucknow, Feb. 10: Before taking on chief minister Mayavati, her political antagonists in Uttar Pradesh have decided to take on Speaker Kesari Nath Tripathi.

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav today said his party would press Governor Vishnukant Shastri to appoint a pro-tem Speaker till the House decides on a no-confidence motion moved against Tripathi.

“How can a Speaker, against whom a no-trust notice has been served, decide the fate of rebel BJP MLAs'” Yadav asked. The Samajwadi had served a no-confidence motion against Tripathi last week, accusing him of being partisan.

The strategy to attack Tripathi before launching an onslaught against Mayavati seems to have been worked out in tandem with the Congress, which has reacted strongly against the Uttar Pradesh Speaker’s decision to recognise the recent split in its 23-member legislature party.

Samajwadi and Congress leaders feel if their attempts to displace Mayavati are to succeed, they will have to dislodge the Speaker first. “As an arbiter of the defection game that is being played in Uttar Pradesh, the Speaker has a key role to play and Tripathi has demonstrated that he cannot act in a non-partisan way,” Congress legislature party leader Pramod Tiwari said.

Like the Samajwadi, the Congress plans to move a no-confidence motion against the Speaker before pressing for a vote on the no-confidence motion against the Mayavati government.

Yadav said that dislodging Mayavati was his ultimate target and he expected all secular parties to support his campaign for the Speaker’s ouster. “Either POTA or Mayavati will survive in Uttar Pradesh,” the Samajwadi chief maintained. “He has crossed all previous records of ignoring democratic norms. A Speaker, who cannot defend the rights of the members of the House and has failed to uphold the dignity of the post, should go and I expect all like-minded parties should support the motion on the floor of the House.”

Mayavati, realising that the Speaker may be her most valuable ally, has asked party activists to join the BJP in defending Tripathi. State Bahujan Samaj Party leaders today joined BJP minister Lalji Tandon’s tirade against the Samajwadi for “lowering the dignity of a constitutional functionary like the Speaker”.

“The need for a pro-tem Speaker arises when there is no one to occupy the post. Why should Tripathi quit simply to oblige Mulayam'” Tandon asked.

Political managers of the BJP-BSP coalition however feel that the Opposition would not be able to sustain its campaign since both the Congress and the Samajwadi continue to remain suspicious of each other.

“We will oppose the demand for a pro-tem Speaker. If they have the numbers, they are welcome to get their no-confidence motion against the Speaker passed by the House,” a BSP minister said.

With the Opposition raving against Speaker Tripathi, the battleground set for two Assembly bypolls in the state this month indicates no signs of a clear-cut line-up emerging for or against Mayavati.

After withdrawals today, it has become clear that there would be no pre-poll understanding among either the members of the ruling coalition or the Opposition. Each of them — the BJP, the BSP, the Samajwadi and the Congress — is contesting both the seats.

While the Congress would like to retain the Gauriganj seat in Sonia Gandhi’s Amethi Lok Sabha constituency, the BJP is fighting to hold on to the Haidergarh seat represented by former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Rajnath Singh.

The BSP has decided to chip in because Mayavati wants neither the Congress nor the BJP to win any of the seats. “In Gauriganj she is fighting a proxy battle against Sonia Gandhi and in Haidergarh against her BJP antagonist Rajnath Singh,” a local politician said.

Mayavati has been concentrating to increase the BSP’s hold in this area for quite some time and has recently challenged the hegemony of Sonia as well as the Thakur landholders who considered it as their political fiefdom, he pointed out.

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