Tuesday, October 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

SP seeks Cong help to form govt in UP
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 21
Encouraged by the dissident activity in the Uttar Pradesh BJP, the Samajwadi Party today sought advantage of the situation by asking the Congress to back secular parties to form an alternative government in the state.

The party expressed confidence that the “tottering” BSP-BJP coalition would fall within 24 hours if the Congress supported the secular parties.

“The moment the Congress decides, within 24 hours the government in UP will go. The onus lies on the Congress......If Mrs Sonia Gandhi decides, will happen. We pray that she decides soon”, SP general secretary Amar Singh said after a meeting of the party’s Central Parliamentary Board.

The BSP-BJP coalition led by Ms Mayawati is “almost dying”, he said. However, he denied that the SP was indulging in toppling the government and insisted that the coalition would fall under its own weight.

Pointing out that the dissidence activity in the UP BJP was strong, Mr Amar Singh said the fact that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had to “run away” from Lucknow and cancel the press meet yesterday showed the gravity of the situation.

He said the parliamentary board meeting took stock of the situation in UP where the “opportunistic” coalition was “tottering” and “situation is ripe” for an alternative government. The SP is the single largest party in UP, with having 146 members.

Warning the Congress that sometimes neutrality was a crime, he said the ball was clearly in the Congress court as the need of the hour was for the secular forces to fight unitedly in UP and Gujarat as also for the Centre to defeat the communal forces.

The Samajwadi Party’s plea to the Congress has come a day after disgruntled BJP and Independent legislators in UP, who were denied berth in the ministry by Chief Minister Mayawati, decided to meet on Wednesday to chalk out their future course of action.

Asked whether the SP was in touch with the disgruntled MLAs, he evaded a direct reply, saying that everyone was in touch with everyone.

To a specific query whether the SP was talking to such MLAs, he suggested that it would be done when the situation reached boiling point.

He said if the Congress failed to rise to the occasion in UP, its commitment to the cause of secularism would be in doubt.



BJP warns UP rebels of action
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 21
In a bid to nip the growing threat to its coalition government in the state, the Bharatiya Janata Party today issued an ultimatum to dissident party legislators in Uttar Pradesh to either fall in line or face disciplinary action for their anti-party activities.

Concerned at the public statements of some disgruntled MLAs and MLCs who have not been accommodated in Chief Minister Mayawati’s Council of Ministers, BJP spokesman Arun Jaitley told newspersons that party President M Venkaiah Naidu had asked the state in charge and former state unit president Kalraj Mishra to speak to legislators for airing their views in public. If they did not mend their ways, the party would have to enforce discipline.

Alarmed at reports that the Samajwadi Party was active wooing some legislators which may destabilise the BJP-BSP coalition government, Mr Naidu asked Mr Mishra to speak to disgruntled legislators and warn them that if they persisted with their activities, action would follow.

When asked if the party remained committed to the long-term electoral alliance with the BSP, Mr Jaitley replied in affirmative saying “We remain firm”.

On a view among a section of the party that the BJP should extend support to a BSP government in the state from outside, Mr Jaitley said “We are committed”.

Meanwhile, a two-day meeting of party MPs and MLAs is being held in Nagpur from November 11 which will take stock of the party’s position and evolve a strategy to mobilise public opinion in BJP’s favour in view of the coming Assembly elections in 10 states.

Mr Jaitley said the party would also ask the Vajpayee government to seriously consider giving input subsidies to farmers. He further said the party office-bearers’ meeting, which concluded in Mumbai yesterday, had also decided to ask the government to take up the issue of linking various national rivers in the backdrop of floods and drought affecting different regions of the country.

Water Resources Minister Arun Sethi had made a presentation on the issue of river linking at the Mumbai meeting and a party delegation headed by Mr Naidu would soon meet Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to take up the issue on a priority basis like the BJP-led government did with national highways.

Earlier, Mr Jaitley said a meeting of the election campaign committee would be held at Gandhinagar on October 23 to chalk out the party’s programme for the coming Assembly elections. BJP President M. Venkaiah Naidu along with Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and party general secretary Arun Jaitley will attend the meeting.


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