Friday, May 17, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Mayawati faces vote of confidence today
Biswajeet Banerjee

Lucknow, May 16
A day before the prestigious show of strength in the Uttar Pradesh state Assembly, the two major allies — the BJP and the BSP — are engaged in dinner diplomacy to keep their flock together.

The state President of the BJP, Mr Kalraj Mishra, is holding a dinner for BJP legislators in which its allies including the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and the Janata Dal (U) are also invited. While the Chief Minister, Ms Mayawati, is holding a meeting of her party legislators at her residence tonight — where they would be served sumptuous dinner with a dose of advice as what to do during the vote of confidence tomorrow.

Though both parties have issued whip to their legislators to be present during the vote of confidence and vote in favour of the government, but there are apprehension that few legislators may act against party diktat.

The BJP leaders are trying to play down these meetings as routine affairs. The media-in charge of the party, Mr Vijay Pathak, told The Tribune that such dinner meetings are held off and on in the party. “Please do not try to read politics in this,” he requested.

Incidentally, yesterday a similar dinner meeting was held at the residence of the Urban Development Minister, Mr Lalji Tandon, which was attended by Ms Mayawati and her BSP colleagues. Just pleasantries were exchanged in that dinner party, said Mr Tandon. We were introduced to some new faces of the BSP, he told The Tribune.

The Opposition has called these dinner meetings as a last ditch attempt by the BJP and the BSP to save the Mayawati government. “Mark my words, the government will fall tomorrow. Many of the BJP and BSP legislators are going to vote against the government,” said Mohammed Azam Khan, leader of the SP Legislature Party.

On the other hand the Chief Minister, Ms Mayawati, seemed confident to win the trust vote tomorrow. “At present I have a support of 211 legislators against required number of 200. I am bound to improve upon this figure of 211. Many legislators are in touch with me,” she said.

Ostensibly, Ms Mayawati seems to be in control of things, but the threat issued by some BJP legislators that they would vote against the government if they were not made ministers, has probably forced the party mandarins to re-cast their strategy.


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