March 5: A letter from Mayavati to deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani today virtually took the steam out of the Samajwadi Party’s “Mayavati tape” offensive in Parliament even as a no-confidence motion moved by the Opposition in Lucknow was thrown out in the Assembly.
BSP members kicked up a furore in the Assembly soon after the Opposition moved the no-trust vote in the morning. In the pandemonium, the vote of thanks to the governor’s address, the supplementary budget and the vote on account were passed and the no-confidence motion rejected — all by voice vote, and in a jiffy.
The Opposition cried foul and demanded a division, but ignoring their protests the presiding officer adjourned the House sine die. “Nobody is coming up for a debate on the resolution, which stands defeated through the voice vote,” were his last words.
Frustrated, the Opposition decided to go on indefinite fast to protest the “murder of democracy”. A beaming Mayavati, on the other hand, described the day’s events as “the triumph of democracy”.
After yesterday’s videotape and CD salvo at the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, the Samajwadi had appeared intent on stepping up the campaign in Parliament.
The party pressed for Mayavati’s resignation and a CBI inquiry into the videotape that allegedly shows her asking her MPs to contribute from their MP local area development fund to the Bahujan Samaj Party coffers.
Just as Speaker Manohar Joshi called the Lok Sabha to order for question hour, Samajwadi’s Ramjilal Suman and his colleagues leapt to their feet demanding the promised statement by Advani on the tape.
Parliamentary affairs minister Sushma Swaraj told the Speaker that the statement would come at the end of question hour.
When the time came, Advani said he had received a letter from Mayavati after he contacted her. The letter contained her point of view and certain allegations against Samajwadi leaders, he said.
As his statement would be based on the letter’s contents, Advani said it would be better for the Speaker to go through the letter first and decide whether it should at all be discussed. He offered to give a copy to Joshi.
As the Assembly knew of the matter, Advani said it would be appropriate for the Assembly to discuss it and not Parliament. The Speaker agreed.
Congress chief whip Priya Ranjan Das Munshi intervened to propose that the letter be tabled on the floor of the House so members could know its contents.
But Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee told him it would be better if the contents are not made public. “I have read a copy of the letter. My conclusion is that the letter should not be placed on the table of the House. It will not do any good. My request is that the Speaker should read the letter and take a view on the demand.”