M A I N   N E W S

Maya emerges the prime mover
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 20
As the countdown for the July 22 confidence vote began on the eve of the special session of Parliament to determine the strength of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s UPA government in the Lok Sabha, BSP president Mayawati emerged as the prime challenger here today.

Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani leading the 170-strong Opposition NDA was reduced to an also ran, with Mayawati registering one conquest after another as former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda’s JD-S and Ajit Singh’s RLD announced their intent to go along with this combine to oppose the government.

In sheer desperation, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav started attacking the Left parties for going with Mayawati and dismissed six deserters from his party, who had changed sides to the BSP, as mere opportunists.

The day was marked by hectic political activity among the non-BJP opponents of the UPA led by Mayawati, which included the four Left parties and the UNPA led now by TDP supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu.

RLD chief Ajit Singh was among the early morning callers on the BSP chief, after which he held a meeting of his three party MPs and MLAs and announced his decision to go along with Mayawati. He said, “I was all along opposed to the nuclear deal”. He significantly also added, “We have to decide our combination for the ensuing elections.”

The RLD chief, whose support base is largely restricted to western Uttar Pradesh, was candid enough to admit that the main consideration in deciding to vote against the government was his hope to align with Mayawati in the ensuing elections.

Having tied up with Ajit Singh, Mayawati did a head count of her party MPs and claimed that her numbers were fully intact.

After tying the loose ends and securing her stable of MPs, she arrived for the luncheon meeting with the UNPA and Left leaders at 9, Safdarjung Road.

This meeting, too, was doubly successful with JD-S president H.D. Deve Gowda sending in his son and former Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy to attend the lunch, indicating his readiness to join the group. Additionally, Left and UNPA leaders decided to carry their new political relations beyond the voting on July 22.

Said Karat, “We also decided that after the confidence vote, whatever its outcome, all of us will sit together and decide our future course of action on July 23.”

Sources disclosed Ajit Singh and Deve Gowda would also participate in this meeting.

Directly from Safdarjung Road, Mayawati rushed to meet Deve Gowda at his residence. Deve Gowda awaited her arrival to announce his decision to stand with the Left/Mayawati/UNPA combine to oppose the government.

With Ajit Singh and Deve Gowda on her side, this new block now commands the support of a formidable 90 MPs. Together with 170 MPs of the NDA, this figure works out to 260.

On behalf of the NDA, JD-U president Sharad Yadav dismissed the suggestion of Mayawati emerging as the star attraction of current political drama. He said, “This is all media creation. In politics numbers matter and we speak on behalf of 170 MPs.”

But NDA sources privately admitted that without Mayawati’s initiative to spirit away a substantial number of SP MPs and also attract Ajit Singh and Deve Gowda, it would have been a clear walkover for the government.



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