The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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UP cauldron boils

New Delhi, Feb. 17: The Congress today stepped on the gas for the ouster of the Mulayam Singh Yadav government after the governor reportedly recommended President’s rule in Uttar Pradesh.

In a report sent to the Centre this morning, T.V. Rajeswar is believed to have questioned the “legality” of methods the Samajwadi Party-led government would use to win the floor test slated for February 26.

Uttar Pradesh has been on the churn since the Supreme Court disqualified 13 BSP legislators who helped Mulayam pass a floor test in the Assembly in 2003 and, in a sense, undermined the legal and constitutional underpinnings of his regime.

On a prod from Sonia Gandhi, the Congress held three back-to-back news conferences addressed by its legal heavyweights: Kapil Sibal, Salman Khursheed and Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

The trio unleashed all the legal arrows in their quiver in support of President’s rule, but the political view that emerged was it would not be easy to impose Article 356 unless ally CPM, which is with Mulayam, was brought on board.

The Congress can push through the proposal along with the BJP, but it does not want to risk alienating the CPM. Joining hands with the BJP will also give Mulayam the chance to blow the “bonhomie” out of proportion.

With the Prime Minister away campaigning in Uttarakhand, Sonia met home minister Shivraj Patil this evening. Congress sources said if at all President’s rule was imposed in Uttar Pradesh, it would be after the February 21 Uttarakhand elections and before Parliament goes into session on February 23.

“It’s a 51:49 case, 51 for happening (dismissal) and 49 for not (Mulayam staying on),” said a senior office-bearer. “The UPA comes first, UP comes later, we can live with anything.”

CPM politburo member Sitaram Yechury reiterated that Mulayam should be allowed to take a floor test. “We are opposed to the imposition of President’s rule.”

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