The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Scare for UP partners

New Delhi/Lucknow, July 29: The BJP-BSP alliance teetered on the brink through the day after Atal Bihari Vajpayee rejected Mayavati’s call for Union minister Jagmohan’s resignation, but the crisis appeared to blow over in the evening when she withdrew the demand.

The Uttar Pradesh chief minister rushed to Delhi to meet Prime Minister Vajpayee and his deputy, .K. Advani, to clear the air. Emerging from the two-hour meeting tonight, Mayavati said the coalition would run “very well” and that her party would have a tie-up with the BJP for the general elections.

In the morning, Vajpayee had rejected Mayavati’s demand in the BJP parliamentary party meeting. Later, the party’s Uttar Pradesh MPs met him and sought withdrawal of support to the Mayavati government. The BJP and the BSP have been allies in the state for over a year.

The BJP high command, so far indulgent towards the chief minister, indicated it would “seriously” consider their demand.

Mayavati then withdrew her demand and expressed regret for the conduct of her MPs, who stalled Parliament, at a press conference in Lucknow.

“It was never my intention to disrupt our alliance in UP and since Vajpayee and Advani have assured me that my grievances would be redressed, I have withdrawn my demand,” she said. Mayavati has had a good rapport with Advani since he attended a BSP rally in Lucknow last year.

However, BJP sources said “we are still keeping our options open” and a decision would be taken in a meeting of the party’s parliamentary board tomorrow. BJP spokespersons were asked by party chief M. Venkaiah Naidu not to welcome Mayavati’s “change of heart”.

Before meeting Mayavati, the BJP brass went into a huddle at 7 Race Course Road. Advani, Naidu, finance minister Jaswant Singh and human resources development minister M.M. Joshi were present.

Sources had then said that depending on how “repentant” she sounded, a decision would be taken on holding the parliamentary board meeting. But the BJP was in a mood to keep the chief minister on a leash, if only for a night, so that she would not take the party for “granted”.

BJP sources wondered what provoked Mayavati to shout for Jagmohan’s resignation after welcoming a CBI inquiry into the Taj corridor controversy. Mayavati had yesterday accused the minister of trying to tarnish her image using the Taj controversy.

The day’s drama had started in the BJP parliamentary party meeting, where Vajpayee said he had told Mayavati last night that Jagmohan would continue to hold office as long as he wanted him to. He warned her it would be “improper” to raise the matter in Parliament.

But BSP MPs forced repeated adjournments in the Lok Sabha and floor leader Rashid Alvi went on TV to iterate the demand. Mayavati’s climbdown may have saved the coalition but observers see this as the beginning of its end.

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