On the face of it, the stage appears set for the dismissal of the Mulayam Singh Yadav government. The Congress Working Committee on Monday said that the Uttar Pradesh chief minister has lost the moral right to continue in office after the Supreme Court verdict disqualifying the 13 BSP legislators. But it left it to the government to decide on the next course of action, with several members urging that it should be taken within the next two days, that is before the Budget session of Parliament starts on February 23.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi chaired the three-hour long meeting at which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was also present. If the Centre decides to press ahead with it, the proposal to invoke Article 356 of the Constitution and place the state under president’s rule will have to be cleared by the Cabinet before it is sent to President APJ Abdul Kalam. The other option before the party is to wait for the Governor’s stand on the resignation of the ministers who had resigned following their disqualification.
The CWC’s indictment of Mulayam came even as the Samajwadi Party was getting ready to complain to Kalam on Tuesday about the Congress’ proposed move to remove the CM instead of allowing him to prove his majority in the Assembly on February 26.
The Congress has already got its UPA allies to agree to the oust-Mulayam campaign.But the four Left parties, which support the Manmohan Singh government from outside, are against it. While Pranab Mukherjee told the meeting that only the CPM was opposed to Mulayam’s dismissal, general secretary AB Bardhan denied reports that his party was willing to go along with the Congress on the issue.
The dilemma for the Congress remains whether it should proceed with the move without the Left’s backing and risk a reaction. The latter may not withdraw support but would certainly withdraw their cooperation in the day-to-day functioning of the government, thereby sapping it of its life force. "They will have to face the consequences of it,’’ said a Left leader. In the Left analysis, Mulayam’s removal will pave the way for a coalition in which the BJP is a part. ``And that would be a political breach on the basis of which the Left supported the UPA," said a Left leader.
The Congress, however, believes that Mulayam’s charge of that the Congress and BJP joined forces to bring him down would not cut much ice since the UPA constituents are also on board on the issue.
At the meeting, Sonia first gave the floor to CWC members from UP, including Mohsina Kidwai, Ram Naresh Yadav and Devendra Dwivedy. All of them maintained that after taking their cry of President’s Rule to a pitch, the party should not look back. They said that the state be placed under central rule before the Parliament session on February 23.
While agreeing with the dismiss-Mulayam campaign, Satyavrat Chaturvedi, however, struck a note of caution. Any decision, he said, must take into consideration three points: one, that the UPA is more important than UP; two, the muslim community should not get the impression that the Congress was joining hands with the BJP to remove Mulayam; and three, the party should also factor in the President’s reaction. Kidwai, on her part, maintained that in view of the SC verdict it was unlikely that the Congress would be blamed. Others who spoke included Digvijay Singh, Ajit Jogi and Ashok Gehlot who is also general secretary in charge of UP.
At Sonia’s behest, Finance Minister P Chidambaram analysed the Supreme Court judgment for the benefit of the CWC members.
With the Budget session coming up, the meeting was also apprised of the various measures that the Government has taken to check price rise—an issue that has been agitating the Congress members and given the other parties a chance to put the UPA regime on the mat in Parliament.