The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mulayam shove adds to Kalyan urgency

New Delhi, Jan. 14: By dismantling four administrative divisions and nine districts in Uttar Pradesh yesterday, chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav has opened a political front with arch rival Mayavati and coalition ally Kalyan Singh alike.

Most of the divisions and districts to be scrapped were created by Mayavati, but it is rumoured that Kalyan Singh is upset at the abolition of the Devipatan division which he had set up when he was chief minister in 1997. The Rashtriya Kranti Party leader has kept silent, but sources close to him say he is “unhappy” at not being consulted.

Kalyan Singh, who will be here tomorrow to attend the wedding of “good friend” and Rajya Sabha MP Balbir Punj’s daughter, is expected to meet BJP leaders. He is likely to try and hasten his “homecoming” to the BJP after a four-year gap — the matter has been hanging fire since he made a surprise appearance at A.B. Vajpayee’s birthday-eve function in Lucknow on December 24.

But BJP sources say no decision has been made, with influential Uttar Pradesh leaders like Rajnath Singh and Kalraj Mishra opposing his homecoming.

Even so, a section of the central high command, including the Prime Minister, feels only Kalyan Singh can help them turn things around in the state.

The matter was discussed by BJP office-bearers after the national executive concluded in Hyderabad earlier this week. “One got the feeling that the chances (of Kalyan returning) were remote though what the reasons are were unclear. There was a mention of certain demands Kalyan had made like getting the presidentship of the BJP or forcing early Assembly elections in UP and being projected as the CM. But these demands did not sound convincing because Kalyan is too seasoned a politician to be so unreasonable,” a member present at the meeting said.

The BJP’s indecision on Kalyan Singh is linked to what they make of Mulayam Singh. Sources said the leaders were against destabilising the chief minister because they regard him as a potential post-Lok Sabha election ally. Hence, the state unit has been directed to oppose his policies and decisions only “as and when necessary”.

“The choice is simple: it is securing the support of Mulayam (Singh)’s MPs versus evaluating Kalyan’s usefulness in the polls. We think the former is a better option,” sources said.

The bottomline is that the chief minister is seen as a more useful general election ally and Kalyan a valuable friend for the Assembly polls, which are unlikely to take place before two years.

The argument is that most National Democratic Alliance constituents, especially those in power in states, may not match their 1999 poll tally this time around. The BJP doubts if the Janata Dal (United) can win sufficient seats in Bihar and Karnataka.

Sources said even if the BJP matched its 1999 tally of 182 or “marginally” improved on it, a majority could still elude it. This is where the Samajwadi Party could prove useful — the BJP reckons the Samajwadi will win 18 or 19 seats in a worst-case scenario and over 28 if things go its way.

The other imponderable is how the proposed Congress-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance will impact the BJP and the Samajwadi.

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