Friday, May 30, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

After Ajit, Mulayam calls on Sonia
Fresh challenge to Mayawati government?
Satish Mishra and Gaurav Choudhury
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 29
Political realignments in the country’s biggest state — Uttar Pradesh — has begun to assume threatening dimensions in the backdrop of elaborate confabulations between the major stakeholders — the Samajwadi Party, the Congress, the Rashtriya Lok Dal and the Rashtriya Kranti Dal — to hammer out a credible alternative to the existing BSP-BJP regime.

The common thread running through the process of realignment is ostensibly based on the growing realisation that the BSP-led alliance was essentially holding on primarily due to a lack of alternative among the legislators.

“We are trying to present a credible alternative to the MLAs...The forced majority in the state is there till the time there is no alternative”, RLD President Ajit Singh, who quit from the Vajpayee Cabinet on May 23, told The Tribune here.

The broad contours of the alternative is believed to have been discussed at length during the meeting between the Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Mr Ajit Singh last evening.

The 13-member Rashtriya Lok Dal is expected to formally withdraw support to the Mayawati government tomorrow.

The RLD leader said he was proceeding to Lucknow tomorrow to preside over the party’s office bearers’ meeting where a final decision on the party stand towards the Mayawati government would be taken.

Mr Ajit Singh is understood to have met his one-time political foe, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, over lunch.

A similar meeting took place this morning here between Ms Gandhi and Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav at her residence during which the two leaders believed to have principally agreed to forge a common front.

The proclaimed differences between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party notwithstanding, in the recent past signals have been emanating from both quarters for forging a possible truck in Uttar Pradesh.

Mr Ajit Singh, who recently resigned from the NDA, is playing the role of the catalyst to trash out a viable platform in the emerging scenario.

“Given a chance, don’t you think MLAs would be willing to jump the ship?”, the RLD President said and played down the observation that the proposed alternative did not have the adequate numbers.

A meeting of a RLD office-bearers will be held tomorrow at Lucknow to discuss the matter and a formal withdrawal of support to the BSP-BJP combine is expected to be announced after the meeting.

“There is no numbers game involved here. It is all contrived out of political compulsions”, he said. “No attempt is being made to bring down the government. We are seeking to provide an alternative.

The government (BSP-BJP) will collapse on the weight of its own misdeeds”, the RLD President said.

Apart from Mr Ajit Singh, the process of realignment had started a few weeks ago when Rashtriya Kranti Dal leader Kalyan Singh’s parleys over his return to the BJP fold ended and he declared that the Congress, the SP and other forces opposed to the coalition government.

Mr Kalyan Singh, whose antipathy for Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is well known, became instrumental in bridging the gap between Mr Yadav and Mr Ajit Singh.

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