The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mulayam home with a fistful of inmates to spare

Lucknow, Sept. 8: Mulayam Singh Yadav won the vote of confidence tonight with a big margin of 90 and the flourish of a Bollywood blockbuster hero.

As he flashed the ‘V’ sign, Raja Bhaiyya, an accused under the anti-terror law a few days ago, Mukhtar Ansari, who was charged under the terror law’s predecessor, Tada, and other big names of Uttar Pradesh’s grey world stood by him, thumping the tables.

Actor Raza Murad, who had come to Lucknow to witness the show, said: “Mulayam has emerged as the hero of the film titled Maya Teri Khatam Kahani.

Mulayam Singh said the final count of 244 votes in his favour was “really unexpected”. In the 403-member House, 398 legislators turned up today, out of which only 154 voted against the new government.

Six more BSP legislators joined Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party, following in the footsteps of the 37 who were paraded before the Speaker yesterday.

Mulayam Singh did not need the half-a-dozen MLAs in jail to win the numbers game. But their presence had a symbolic significance as the new chief minister announced that his government’s first move would be to “end Mayavati’s goonda raj”.

Mulayam Singh accused Mayavati of “looting the public money” and misusing the law to hound her political opponents. His first announcement after the victory was a much-promised probe into “Mayavati’s corruption”.

“I do not believe in politics of vendetta. But I will not allow any criminal to get away. Squandering public money is the biggest crime of all,” he said.

The spectre of Mayavati continued to haunt the House, though she had resigned from the Assembly. Even her ally in power, the BJP, was gunning for its estranged partner. Most BJP speakers, including her rakhi brother and BJP legislature party leader Lalji Tandon, took pot shots at Mayavati.

This prompted Mulayam Singh to advise Tandon: “Brothers are supposed to protect their sisters in Hindu religion, but Tandon drove his sister towards suicide. I wish she had not resigned from the House. We are all missing her.”

Tandon seemed ill at ease in his new assignment as leader of Opposition — a post that went to him after the BSP split — but he offered to play the role of “a constructive Opposition”.

Overnight developments suggest that the BJP is also not immune to splits. A group of two dozen BJP legislators had called on Mulayam Singh’s newfound ally Kalyan Singh late last night.

Salute to Sonia

Mulayam Singh said he planned to go to Delhi soon and persuade Congress president Sonia Gandhi to let her MLAs join the government. “I will go for a cabinet expansion within a day or two,” he said.

He conceded that he had dubbed Sonia a “foreigner” but added: “That is a thing of the past.”

“Sonia Gandhi has shown her magnanimity by lending support to forming my government despite being dubbed a foreigner by me earlier,” Mulayam Singh said.

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