The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cong joins chorus against Speaker

Lucknow, Feb. 14: A week after the Samajwadi Party issued a no-confidence motion against Uttar Pradesh Assembly Speaker Kesari Nath Tripathi, the Congress today followed suit.

“Tripathi has failed to work in a fair and impartial manner and granted recognition to the breakaway group of Congress MLAs against the rules,” Congress Legislature Party leader Pramod Tiwari told reporters.

Like the Samajwadi, the Congress has asked Governor Vishnukant Shastri to appoint a pro-tem Speaker in Tripathi’s place before the Assembly discusses the no-confidence motion. The move indicates that continuance of the Speaker rather than Mayavati would be the issue on which the first round of battle between the Opposition and the ruling coalition will be fought as the Assembly begins its session on February 28.

Realising that the first round could be decisive, Mayavati has come out openly in Tripathi’s defence. She has asked her political aides to mobilise support of not only legislators of the Bahujan Samaj Party and the BJP but also Independent MLAs and those representing smaller parties.

Tiwari said his party would work in unison with the Samajwadi to dislodge the Speaker. “We have requested Governor Vishnukant Shastri to send a message to the Assembly to elect the senior-most member of the House as a pro-tem Speaker when the no-confidence motion comes up for discussion.”

The Congress has also demanded that a secret ballot be held and two observers appointed by the Governor remain in the House to ensure that its proceedings are held properly.

Tewari reminded Tripathi of his oft-repeated claim that he would resign if even one member of the House expressed lack of confidence in him.

“Now that the entire Opposition has given notice to bring the no-confidence motion, he should live up to his word and allow someone else to preside over the House till he can demonstrate majority support,” he said.

The fact that a splintered Congress in Uttar Pradesh has finally evolved a common cause with the Samajwadi, however, does not seem to bother Mayavati. “Tripathi is a repository of knowledge and has a track record of discharging his duties in accordance with the Constitution. The BJP-BSP alliance will fight the no-confidence motion together,” she said.

Mayavati knows that though a section of BJP MLAs may harbour a grouse against her, they will back Tripathi, a seasoned BJP leader who enjoys the goodwill of all sections in the party’s state unit.

State BJP leader Lalji Tandon has already indicated that the ruling coalition is against the Opposition demand for a pro-tem Speaker. “Why should Tripathi vacate the post simply because some frustrated MLAs don’t like him'” he asked.

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