Saturday, August 11, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Loktantrik party pulls out of UP Govt
Power Minister sacked, but ministry stable

Uttar Pradesh Governor Vishnu Kant Shastri
Uttar Pradesh Governor Vishnu Kant Shastri showing Naresh Agarwal's letter of withdrawal of support at Rajbhavan on Friday. — PTI photo

Lucknow, August 10
A sudden political storm whipped off the Loktantrik Congress Party from the ruling BJP-led coalition in Uttar Pradesh today, signalling a re-alignment of political forces ahead of the crucial the Assembly elections in the state.

Chief Minister Rajnath Singh brought a dramatic end to the uneasy alliance between his party and the LCP this morning when he sacked its leader and state Power Minister Naresh Agrawal for violating the principle of collective responsibility of the Cabinet.

He told reporters that Mr Agrawal had gone against the morality of his post and lowered the dignity of the ruling coalition. He said he was sacking Mr Agrawal from the Cabinet because of his outbursts against the government in Hardwar yesterday.

“I was deeply shocked to know about his views about the government,’’ he added.

The 19-member Loktantrik Congress Party, in turn, withdrew support to the coalition and called for a trial of strength in the 404-member Assembly, where the BJP has 158 members, and its allies 32.

But cracks surfaced within the LCP — a group which had deserted the Congress to prop up the Kalyan Singh-led government in 1997 — after Mr Agrawal announced his decision to snap ties with the BJP-led coalition.

Two LCP members — Agriculture Minister Diwakar Vikram Singh and Minister of State for Agriculture Vivek Singh — were expelled by the party after they dissented with Mr Agarwal’s decision on seeking new allies in the state.

LCP member and state Industrial Development Minister Fateh Bahadur Singh, son of the late Chief Minister Veer Bahadur Singh, said at least 15 out of the 19 LCP MLAs were with Mr Rajnath Singh.

A letter signed by these ministers declaring their support to the government will be sent to state Governor Vishnu Kant Shastri.

Mr Veer Singh said withdrawal of support to the government was Mr Agrawal’s personal decision and other LCP MLAs, all of whom are ministers in the state government, had nothing to do with it.

The BJP too claims the support of at least a couple of LCP legislators. It also says a majority of independents in the House are with it.

Mr Rajnath Singh announced his decision at a hastily convened news conference at his official residence this morning. He said he had already made a formal recommendation to the Governor to this effect. His party rallied behind him on the decision, with top BJP leaders saying that he had taken the right step.

Talking to reporters in Hardwar, Mr Agarwal said the Chief Minister had for long been searching for reasons to drop him from his Cabinet. He said the attacks on his party had increased after Mr Ajit Singh-led Rashtriya Lok Dal joined the BJP coalition.

“For the past few months, the Power Ministry has been the target of attacks,’’ he said, adding that he had already intimated his desire to leave the coalition to Mr Rajnath Singh.

According to Mr Agarwal, he rang up Mr Rajnath Singh this morning and had heated arguments with him over the anti-BJP speeches made by his partymen at the conference here.

He said a majority of his party legislators are with him on the decision to part ways with the coalition.

Mr Agarwal said if the Speaker did not call the special session of the assembly for a trial of strength, his party would approach the Governor on the issue.

Governor Shastri said he had not received any demand for summoning the Assembly for a trial of strength. “It is the discretion of the Chief Minister to appoint or drop members from his Council of Ministers,’’ the Governor said.

“As far as my knowledge is concerned, Rajnath Singh has not lost majority. The figure is with the ruling coalition in the Assembly,’’ he said.

Over the current ambiguity over the term of the Assembly, Mr Agrawal said, elections should be held immediately after the expiry of the term of the House.

“The BJP would not be able to form the government after the elections,’’ Mr Agarwal claimed.

However, the Chief Minister exuded confidence, stating, “My government is in majority and would remain so.’’

A crucial meeting of BJP party office-bearers, attended by the Chief Minister, his senior colleagues and in charge of UP affairs Kushabhau Thakre endorsed the decision to sack Mr Agarwal. UNI

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |