DELHI SAYS IT WITH POWER & FLOWERS
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- Published 6.10.00
New Delhi, Oct. 6 : New Delhi, Oct. 6: Mamata Banerjee's resignation rollback prompted a collective sigh of relief from the BJP and the NDA government as it had ensured that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee goes into his operation without a crisis to worry about. Kailashpati Mishra, BJP vice-president in charge of West Bengal, said: "Mamata knows very well that the NDA was voted to power on the stability plank. She did not want to do anything which would destabilise the government." BJP sources said that after the initial "goof-up", resulting from the assurances given to Mamata by the Prime Minister's emissary, Sudheendra Kulkarni, Vajpayee's mediators used "more political arguments" during subsequent talks. Rather than give the impression that the Centre would allow itself to be "bulldozed" by Mamata, the negotiators decided to appeal to her "political instincts" and not just talk of a rollback. Both defence minister George Fernandes and Andhra Pradesh's Chandrababu Naidu, who spoke to Mamata on Vajpayee's behalf, stressed that it made "more sense" for her to remain a minister since the Assembly polls are round the corner. While clarifying that the Centre was not in a position to impose President's rule or declare the violence-hit areas "disturbed", Fernandes is learnt to have emphasised that "with the government's backing, you can be assured the Left Front government will not resort to strong-arm tactics beyond a point during the elections". Naidu asked her to rejoin the ministry and then press for a rollback with his "support". "First join the government, then we can do anything," Naidu told Mamata, according to Telugu Desam sources. Although Naidu has made token noises of protest, he also assured Vajpayee that he supported the decision. Armed with this assurance, the Centre decided to get tough with Mamata. While Vajpayee kept himself out of the parleys, BJP sources said he did his bit to soothe Mamata's nerves. Yesterday on her birthday, he sent her flowers through a personal emissary. "She respects Atalji and this gesture must have meant a lot to her," the sources said.