Sunday, April 28, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Decks cleared for BSP-BJP govt
Mayawati to stake claim today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 27
The Bharatiya Janata Party Parliamentary Board today paved the way for the formation of Mayawati-led coalition government in Uttar Pradesh latest by Tuesday.

Reversing its earlier decision to sit in the opposition, the Parliamentary Board put its seal of approval on the BSP-BJP coalition government which would make Ms Mayawati the UP Chief Minister for the third time.

Ms Mayawati will stake her claim tomorrow for forming the government along with the letters of support from the BJP, the Rashtriya Lok Dal and the Janata Dal (United) to UP Governor Vishnu Kant Shastri. It is likely that a government would be in place in Lucknow by Tuesday morning, before the crucial vote on censure motion on Gujarat on Tuesday.

Coming out of the meeting, BJP President K. Jana Krishnamurthi said that while the board cleared the formation of the BSP-BJP coalition government, the issue of setting up a joint coordination committee had been left to the state BJP leaders.

According to the understanding reached between the BJP and the BSP, a 55-member cabinet, which would have 27 members from the BSP, 23 from the BJP, three from the RLD, one from the JD (U), would be sworn in along with Ms Mayawati. Important portfolios would be shared equally among the partners.

The details of the formation of the government were discussed at length this morning at a three-hour meeting during which the names of the BJP MLAs who would be made ministers in the coalition government were discussed and cleared.

Former UP Chief Minister Rajnath Singh, who was present at the morning meeting, left for Lucknow and did not attend the evening meeting.

Earlier, briefing newspersons about the three-hour meeting at the residence of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Mr Krishnamurthi said the boardís meeting was necessary in view of the latest political developments in UP.

Mr Krishnamurthi said former UP Chief Minister Rajnath Singh, state party President Kalraj Mishra and senior BJP leader Lalji Tandon had also been invited to the meeting to submit a detailed report on the political situation in UP. These leaders had been interacting with the BSP leadership, he added.

The meeting at the Prime Ministerís residence just before the proposed BJP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh was significant as it was also attended by senior leaders from the government, Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) and the BJP.

Besides Mr Vajpayee, those present were Union Home Minister L.K. Advani, Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi, Mr Krishnamurthi, former BJP President Kushabhau Thakre, RSS supremo K. Sudarshan, Mr Madan Das Devi and Mr S.K. Seshadari from the RSS.

While Mr Krishnamurthi said the gathering discussed general issues that did not include Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, sources averred that the RSSís approval on a coalition government with the BSP was necessary in the present circumstances, particularly in the context of the happenings in Gujarat.

The meeting was long pending and they held this kind of meeting from time to time to take stock of various developments, he said in an effort to deflect the media attention.

The RSS, which was initially reluctant to accept a BSP-BJP coalition government, has decided to clear it as Hindus in UP are not appreciating the happenings in Gujarat. It was necessary to have a control on the levers of power in the biggest state, the RSS felt, after listening to Mr Vajpayee and Mr Advani.

Mr Kalraj Mishra and Mr Lalji Tandon briefed the board and also presented the report about the political developments in the state.

The BSP, which has 98 MLAs and the BJP with 88 MLAs, along with 22 MLAs belonging to its allies, including the Rashtriya Lok Dal, form a clear majority in the 403-member Vidhan Sabha.

Senior BJP leaders like Lalji Tandon, Om Prakash Singh and Harish Srivastava were understood to be among the frontrunners for key ministries in the coalition government.Back

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