Former Prime Minister VP Singh lent his voice on Friday to the rising chorus for Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh’s scalp even as the Congress bounced the question off the CPI-M in search of a seemingly elusive consensus on the imposition of President’s rule in the poll-bound state.
The Congress broached the subject at a meeting CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat had with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Home Minister Shivraj Patil. The prospects of the Marxist party supporting the dismissal line — first explored on Thursday by the Congress’s “core group” including the PM and Congress president — are remote though the matter might figure at its politburo meeting in Delhi on Saturday.
Arguments for Mulayam’s dismissal draw strength from the fine print of the SC judgement that the SP leader lacked a majority at very inception of his government in 2003. “When he never had a majority, where is the question of a floor test now to prove his strength,” asked a senior Congress leader.
In response, the CPM’s Nilotpal Basu, broadly echoing Karat’s line in his discussions with the Congress leaders, said if that was true, why did the Congress extend outside support to Mulayam? “The politburo will discuss the UP situation. Our official position is that the CM should prove his numbers on the floor of the assembly,” he said.
In principal, VP Singh, like the CPI-M, is opposed to imposition of President’s Rule under Article 356 of the Constitution. He felt constrained to make an exception as the court has disqualified the 13 BSP MLAs who went to the UP governor on August 26, 2003 in support of the Samajwadi Party leader and against outgoing CM Mayawati’s recommendation that the House be dissolved.
“The judgment has made it clear that the government formation in 2003 was illegal. If the 13 legislators were wrong then, the remaining 24 who lent support to Mulayam on September 6 were also wrong,” Singh argued. Even as Mulayam announced that he would seek another trust-vote on February 26, the former PM appealed to the governor to take cognizance of the court verdict and dismiss the government.
But from all available indications, the final word in the matter will be of the CPI-M that has steadfastly opposed Article 356 since Pandit Nehru used it against EMS Namboodiripad in Kerala in 1959.