The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mulayam set to break ally yoke

Lucknow, Sept. 28: Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav has initiated moves to end his dependence on allies while simultaneously talking to them for the imminent expansion of his cabinet.

He is set to split Mayavati’s Bahujan Samaj Party again and induct the defectors in his Samajwadi Party so that it enjoys a majority in the Assembly.

Samajwadi sources here indicated that 18 BSP MLAs were ready to break away. “We are waiting for stragglers to join them and bring up the number to 23 — the minimum required for a legal split,” a source said.

After the fall of the BSP government, the Samajwadi’s strength in the Assembly had shot up from 142 to 186 with 40 BSP MLAs and representatives of smaller outfits joining the party.

Now, if 23 more MLAs leave the 69-member BSP and join the Samajwadi, Mulayam Singh will have the clear support of 209 party MLAs in the 402-strong Assembly.

As a senior party leader put it: “Once the SP (Samajwadi) has a majority of its own, our leader will not have to look to Sonia Gandhi and Ajit Singh for every move his government makes.”

But for tactical reasons, Mulayam Singh does not wish to give the impression that he is ungrateful to the allies whose support helped him snatch power from Mayavati. “We want all our allies to be represented in the government and have a say in how UP should be put back on the path of development and progress,” the chief minister said here today on his return from Delhi.

A week after assuming charge on August, Mulayam Singh had appointed two ministers each from his party, the Rashtriya Lok Dal and the Rashtriya Kranti Party.

His biggest obstacle to an expansion is not the Congress’ refusal to join the government, but the ministerial ambitions of the BSP defectors and some Independents. Mulayam Singh is not averse to accommodating some of them, but he does not want to repeat Kalyan Singh’s jumbo ministry of defectors of 1997.

The chief minister may, thus, go for a limited expansion within a day or two, sources close to him hinted. As an aide put it: “He can promise to accommodate others at a future date. And another BSP split, meanwhile, might change the scene altogether.”

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