The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Congress dumps Mulayam
Majority mark: 202
SP + allies: 240
Minus Cong: 225
Minus Ajit: 210
Minus BSP rebels: 172*
* Minus BSP rebels, the
majority mark will be 183

Lucknow/New Delhi, Jan. 17: The Congress tonight withdrew support to the Uttar Pradesh government, but it is the looming threat of a court axe that is keeping Mulayam Singh Yadav awake.

Poised to prove his majority at a special Assembly session starting tomorrow, the chief minister could be bundled out if the Supreme Court quashes the merger of 38 BSP rebels with his party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal switches sides before the likely trust vote.

The RLD has already withdrawn three ministers.

The government, which now has the backing of 225 MLAs in the 403-member House, would then see its support plunge to 172, 11 less than the revised majority mark.

The court had yesterday reserved its order on the breakaway BSP group.

Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Salman Khursheed announced the decision to snap ties at a news conference today. “The law and order situation in the state has turned for the worse and there is no rule of law worth the name,” he said.

“We have long been separate physically. The withdrawal of support will formalise it now,” Khursheed, who described the recent Noida killings as a “shame”, added.

Transport minister Naresh Agarwal said the withdrawal of support “will have no meaning” as his party has “enough numbers”, and called the move merely “technical”. The Congress, the Samajwadi leader added, has been “behaving as an Opposition party all through”.

Observers say the biggest imponderable is the court’s ruling. If it strikes down the merger and comes before the confidence vote, Mulayam’s government would have to go.

If a similar ruling comes after the trial of strength — which the House would decide when to hold after it convenes tomorrow — then, too, it would spell the end of the Mulayam government. “But, at least, we would have proved that we had majority support on the floor of the House,” said a Samajwadi source.

Asked if his party would go for a tit-for-tat withdrawal of support to the Congress-led central coalition, Samajwadi general secretary Amar Singh said: “Of course not.”

“The SP is solely responsible for making Manmohan Singh the Prime Minister because it is the largest secular outfit to have reduced the BJP’s strength… from 60 to 10 (in the heartland) in the last Lok Sabha polls,” he added.

Senior Congress leaders said the “last thing” Mulayam would want is an “open confrontation” with Delhi. He still needs the Centre’s help to push through certain schemes before the coming state polls.

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