Sunday, August 24, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Maya bows to BJP demand
Tandon to be Deputy CM
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 23
The controversial Taj Heritage Corridor project is set to take its first political toll, with Chief Minister Mayawati accepting the BJP demand for a Deputy Chief Minister.

In anticipation of the serious consequences of a Surpeme Court verdict on the multi-crore controversial project, Ms Mayawati is going to appoint senior BJP leader and Urban Development Minister Lalji Tandon as the Deputy Chief Minister, who could eventually lead the BSP-BJP government in case of an adverse judgement.

The noose appears to be slowly, but surely, tightening around Ms Mayawati’s neck in the case of the Taj Heritage Corridor project in the Supreme Court.

A two-judge Supreme Court Bench has fixed September 11 as the date for the filing of the final report by the CBI.

As her Principal Secretary P.L. Punia, former Environment Secretary R.K. Sharma, Chief Secretary D.S. Bagga and Environment Minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui have come under cloud and there is a strong likelihood of their names being mentioned in the final report of the CBI, Ms Mayawati is bound to come under tremendous political pressure, sources said.

In this background, she is weighing the pros and cons of the situation that is likely to emerge in the coming days, the sources said, adding that one of the options before her was to continue with the coalition government and hand over the reins of power to a person who could guard her interests.

Incidentally, Mr Tandon was one of the principal architects of the coalition and is also a “rakhi brother” of Ms Mayawati.

The other options of either going in for fresh elections or sitting in the Opposition are too risky as a Samajwadi Party-led government may prove to be too “hazardous” for her and the BSP, the sources said.

Though she has not revealed her mind to BJP leaders, yet continuing with the coalition arrangement with the BJP appears to be the best bet for her, a confidante of Ms Mayawati said.

This suits BJP Central leaders also as the continuation of the coalition government in the biggest state would prove to be an effective tool for the next General Election. 

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