Wednesday, March 5, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

UP Governor begins probe
Cong to bring no-trust move today
Our Correspondent and UNI

Lucknow, March 4
In a fast-paced political development, the UP Governor, Mr Vishnu Kant Shastri, today declared that he had started an "inquiry" into the video cassette and the CD given to him by leaders of the Samajwadi Party yesterday even as the Congress declared that it was contemplating to bring a no-confidence motion against the state government tomorrow.

Rattled by these developments, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati announced institution of a probe into the use of discretionary funds during Mr Mualyam Singh Yadav's tenure and declared that guilty officials would be taken to task.

The Congress today tried to raise the issue in the state Assembly and demanded that all proceedings should be stopped to have a discussion on the issue in which Ms Mayawati had been seen in a video recording asking her party workers, MLAs and MPs to give money from their development funds to the party.

"It is a case of corrupt practices and the issue should be handed over to the CBI for inquiry," said Mr Pramod Tiwari, leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP).

Mr Tiwari told The Tribune that the Chief Minister earlier in the day had claimed that the cassette was tampered with by the Samajwadi Party. "If the case is handed over to the CBI, it will also look into this aspect and, in fact, may help the Chief Minister in proving her allegation," he said.

He said the Congress would bring a no-confidence motion against the Mayawati-led government tomorrow in the House.

The Opposition leaders held a meeting at the house of Mr Yadav today to chalk out their strategy. "The Congress has the support of Opposition parties," said Mr Tiwari, adding that if everything went well then probably tomorrow this government would be defeated on the floor of the House.

Meanwhile, Raj Bhavan here today started a probe into the case as the Governor told The Tribune that he had started an inquiry into the cassette and the CD and had written a letter to the Chief Minister in this regard.

In a statement issued here, the Chief Minister said the orders for the inquiry instituted by her had been given to state Chief Secretary D.S. Bagga. On the basis of the inquiry, FIRs would be lodged against all institutions and organisations found to have received money illegally or misused the state funds.

The Samajwadi Party had yesterday handed over a video cassette and a VCD to the Governor Mr Shastri, allegedly showing Ms Mayawati demanding funds from her party MLAs and MPs for the party. The SP leaders alleged that she had demanded 50 per cent of the amount an MLA or MP “siphons off” from his/her constituency development fund.

Countering these charges, Ms Mayawati said, “Those accusing me of such misdeeds were themselves involved in such rackets.’’

She alleged that Mr Yadav was himself into extorting funds from his party MPs and MLAs and said she would expose such financial misdeeds soon. She claimed that the video footage released by the SP yesterday was an “editing trick” aimed at defaming her.

Denying any such trick, SP general secretary Amar Singh demanded a CBI probe into the episode.

The BJP, however, declined to make any comment on the controversial tapes. BJP Parliamentary Party spokesman Vijay Kumar Malhotra told reporters that he had not seen the tapes.

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