Tuesday, June 25, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Katiyar heads BJP’s UP brigade
Jana may be inducted into ministry
Satish Mishra
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 24
Appointment of sabre-rattler of the Ram Janmabhoomi Temple movement Vinay Katiyar as the President of the Uttar Pradesh party unit today appears to be the beginning of wide-ranging changes in the BJP as well as in the Union Cabinet.

The extent of changes in the central leadership of the BJP and the Council of Ministers is going to be determined by the outcome of a crucial meeting likely to be held tomorrow between Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, BJP President K. Jana Krishnamurthi, Union Home Minister L.K. Advani and RSS leader Madan Das Devi.

The direction in which the RSS wants to take the country’s politics was discussed today at a meeting at Keshav Kunj, the RSS headquarters, which was attended by Mr Krishnamurthi and former BJP President Kushabhau Thakre.

The name of Mr Katiyar, BJP Lok Sabha MP from Faizabad, was cleared by none other than Mr Vajpayee himself, sources said adding that the RSS as well as the Prime Minister are very keen to make the BJP an aggressive outfit by bringing in Mr Jana Krishnamurthi into the ministry and sending some of the Cabinet colleagues to take command of the party headquarters at 11 Ashok Road.

If the BJP President agrees to move to the Union Cabinet then Mr Vajpayee, who is leaving on a two-day trip to his constituency Lucknow later this week, would undertake his long awaited reshuffle of the Council of Ministers towards the end of this month or the beginning of the next month thus giving concrete shape to Mr Advani’s Kamraj Plan.

Mr Advani had hinted of his “Kamraj Plan at the BJP National Executive meeting in Goa held in April this year. The Home Minister has been working on his plan for quite sometime, sources said adding that Mr Advani is very keen to turn the party into an aggressive outfit manned by middle aged leaders.

Buoyed by the success of his “operation A.P.J. Abdul Kalam” through which he turned the tables on the entire Opposition, Mr Vajpayee is now confident that he can take the initiatives which would not only improve the image of his government but would also make the RSS happy.

Mr Vajpayee’s moves are in close consultation with Mr Advani, sources said adding that the Prime Minister may agree now to the RSS suggestion of dropping Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha and replacing him with another bureaucrat-turned-politician T.N Chaturvedi.

Along with Mr Sinha, Mr Vajpayee is understood to be seriously considering sending his Cabinet colleagues like Law Minister Arun Jaitley, Minister of Rural Development M Venkaiah Naidu, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Pramod Mahajan, Information and Broadcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj to the party. Some ministers like the Statistics and Programme Implementation Minister Maneka Gandhi, Health Minister C.P. Thakur may be out of the Council of Ministers for non-performance, sources said adding that NDA partners like the Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee have to be brought into the Union Cabinet.

Mr Advani is believed to have suggested to Mr Vajpayee that the BJP needs someone at the helm of the organisation who is media savy, articulate and can bear the stress and strain of today’s politics. The Home Minister wants that the BJP should not be shy of its Hindutva agenda and wants someone at the command of the party who can aggressively pursue the course.

And if Mr Krishnamurthi, who has been resisting to leave the high office of the party President, agrees to the plan then Mr Vajpayee is going to take an initiative on Ayodhya, sources said.

Meanwhile, Mr Krishnamurthi has ruled out his inclusion in the Cabinet. 


War of words over UP Cabinet expansion
Biswajeet Banerjee

Lucknow, June 24
The BJP and the BSP leaders are caught in war of words over the expansion of Cabinet. The Chief Minister, Ms Mayawati, blamed the BJP for the delay in the expansion of Cabinet, as it is yet to furnish the list of its quota of ministers. Taking affront to this statement, the BJP leaders claimed that Ms Mayawati was misleading the media.

“The BJP list is ready,” said former Chief Minister Rajnath Singh, who is also in charge of the state unit of the BJP.

To sort out the differences senior BJP leaders, including state party chief Kalraj Mishra and Urban Development Minister Lalji Tandon, held over two-hour-long meeting with Ms Mayawati yesterday. Sources claimed that the BJP leaders urged the BSP leader not to issue any statement that could lead to discontentment among the BJP rank and file.

Trying to play down the controversy, Mr Mishra told The Tribune today that it was a routine meeting with the Chief Minister. “It was a courtesy call,” he said. On the other hand, Mr Tandon said: “All contentious issues, including expansion of the ministry were discussed”.

The issue of expansion of the Mayawati-led ministry has been hanging fire for over a fortnight. Immediately after her swearing-in as Chief Minister, Ms Mayawati had said the next expansion of ministry would take place in the last week of May. As it did not materialise, the probable date was extended to the first week of June. As the days passed by, she clarified her position and blamed the BJP for the delay.

Senio BJP leaders confirm that the party is yet to finalise the list of ministers. “Whatever Ms Mayawati has said is true. She has not got the BJP list,” said a very senior party leader, who is also aspiring for a ministerial berth in the BSP-BJP coalition government.

“The problem with the BJP is that there are too many contenders for hardly two dozen ministerial berths,” he said and added: “Almost all of them are pulling strings putting the state leaders, who will finalise the list, in a quandary.”

To break this impasse, the BJP leaders have found a way out. They are now waiting for Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee’s two-day Lucknow visit slated for June 27. 

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