The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ajit’s flock in Valley swells

Srinagar, June 3: Four Rashtriya Lok Dal MLAs from Uttar Pradesh today joined nine of their colleagues who are already here to foil “poaching” by chief minister Mayavati after their party pulled out of her government.

The legislators who arrived today are Pratap Choudhry, Virendra Singh, Ranveer Singh and Kuka Bhai Hamid. They arrived on a special plane from Delhi and were escorted to Grand Palace Hotel, overlooking the Dal Lake, amid tight security. The Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government has tightened security around the hotel.

The MLAs joined the group led by Samar Pal Singh which arrived here yesterday afternoon. The group comprises Choudhary Babu Lal, Jaswant Singh, Tej Paul, Ganga Prasad Pushkar, Ajay Kumar, Prem Singh, Raj Paul Singh and Swami Omvesh, besides Samar Pal.

The RLD withdrew support to the BJP-BSP coalition last week, days after party chief Ajit Singh quit the Union Cabinet.

All 13 MLAs were reportedly heading for places of tourist interest like the Mughal Gardens and Pahalgam health resort today, a source said. The legislators’ arrival here follows last week’s Congress conclave at Srinagar and Sonia Gandhi’s Baramulla rally on Sunday.

The Congress president had hinted here that her party might support the Mulayam Singh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party in forming a new government in Uttar Pradesh. “It is possible,” she had said when asked if the party would help the Samajwadi form a government. The party may end up supporting a grand alliance of the Congress, the Samajwadi and Ajit Singh’s RLD.

An RLD legislator wishing anonymity said: “We are here on a visit. Our arrival has nothing to do with the ongoing political drama in Uttar Pradesh.”

He added that the MLAs would be “staying here for some days”.

A state official said the MLAs had been brought to Kashmir “because it will be difficult for Mayavati’s supporters to contact them in Srinagar”. The Congress is a major partner in Mufti’s coalition government.

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