The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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BJP sees hope in ‘Maulana Mulayam’

Lucknow, Aug. 27: As the BJP central leadership sought to wash its hands of the Uttar Pradesh crisis by leaving it to the governor’s discretion, state leaders and the rank and file started working out how to survive under Mulayam Singh Yadav’s rule.

“The governor (Vishnu Kant Shastri) is exploring the possibility of an alternative government, but the BJP is prepared for any situation,” said BJP legislature party leader Lalji Tandon.

Few state leaders, including Rajnath Singh and Kalraj Mishra, share Tandon’s confidence. They want the BJP to play the role of an Opposition party.

State unit chief Vinay Katiyar and some others have even started listing what the BJP could gain under the Samajwadi Party’s rule.

“It will enable us to replay the early nineties when the BJP first rode to power in Uttar Pradesh,” said the VHP spokesman in Ayodhya. He recalled how “Maulana Mulayam’s” repression had added fuel to the temple movement and catapulted the BJP to power in 1991.

The party had then bagged an absolute majority, but since then, its vote share in Assembly and Lok Sabha elections has dwindled.

Gopal Awasthi, of the BJP’s powerful Kanpur unit, went a step further. “It may sound ironic, but now that Mayavati has ditched us, we will be forced to return to Ram. With Mulayam as the principal antagonist, the VHP’s temple agitation could get a new edge,” he said.

Awasthi admitted that the morale of the BJP’s rank and file was at its lowest. “Everyone of us knows that the BJP would be doomed if there are fresh elections,” he said.

Temple movement leaders within the BJP are literally praying for Mulayam’s rule. “Now that the ASI report has given us a weapon, we should lose no time in heating up the temple movement,” said BJP MLA from Ayodhya Lallu Singh.

Ballia MLA Ram Iqbal Singh and others in the BJP are highly critical of the role Tandon played in allowing Mayavati to ride roughshod over BJP activists in most districts of the state.

“The coalition has damaged our party prospects so much that not even 5 per cent of us are confident of retaining our seats if an election is forced in the near future,” said a member of the 87-strong BJP legislature party.

These state leaders are now trying to convince the central leadership that an electoral debacle in the Assembly elections could seal the BJP’s chances in the Lok Sabha polls. Uttar Pradesh sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha.

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