Lucknow, Aug. 14: Uttar Pradesh BJP rebels have changed tack ahead of the budget session of the Assembly. Instead of demanding the state legislature party leader Lalji Tandon’s head, they want him made deputy chief minister.
Rebel MLAs, including Mayankeshwar Singh and Badhah Singh, had denounced Tandon’s role during June’s abortive coup against chief minister Mayavati. But today, the dissidents met BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu in New Delhi and demanded that Tandon be made deputy chief minister.
They handed over a memorandum to this effect, signed by 92 BJP MLAs. They have urged the high command to decide on the matter before the Assembly session starts on August 28.
An MLA, who was part of the nine-member delegation that met Naidu, said: “If the high command cannot ensure the self-respect of BJP MLAs in the Uttar Pradesh coalition (with the Bahujan Samaj Party), we may be forced to think about our future.”
The rebels have handed over a similar letter to Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s personal secretary Shiv Kumar.
Political observers say the move stems from the MLAs’ desire to ensure that Mayavati does not have a free run in the state. A section of BJP leaders in the state had wanted the deputy chief minister’s post to go to the BJP when the coalition with the BSP was formed, but Kanshi Ram and Mayavati rejected the proposal.
A number of BJP legislators are questioning the way the central leadership is allowing Mayavati to hijack the coalition government to impose her Dalit agenda at the cost of the BJP.
Ram Iqbal Singh, BJP MLA from Ballia, has already launched a campaign against Mayavati for the cause of a Dalit. Singh has taken up cudgels on behalf of his Dalit supporter, Om Prakash, whose house was demolished allegedly at the instance of local BSP MLA Ghura Ram.
Singh belongs to the BJP rebel group that wants the party to bag the deputy chief minister’s post.