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A temporary reprieve

IF CHIEF Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav were to find friends, he would probably have them in the ranks of the divided opposition that paved the way for his plain sailing on Tuesday.

india Updated: Mar 01, 2006 02:03 IST

IF CHIEF Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav were to find friends, he would probably have them in the ranks of the divided opposition that paved the way for his plain sailing on Tuesday.

However, with Mayawati dangling carrots, and Mulayam’s poor display of his coalition’s numerical strength, he is certain to remain under pressure. And with a raging controversy over the status of BSP rebels in the post-verdict scenario, today’s developments may prove just a temporary reprieve.

Without the court’s full judgement, most experts were reluctant to comment on the status of BSP rebels. Nevertheless, legal experts of the two warring factions — advocate general Virendra Bhatia (SP) and former advocate general SC Misra (BSP) — claimed that they (the 40 BSP rebels) belonged to them. .

Bhatia said the BSP rebels would continue to remain members of the Loktantrik Bahujan Dal, while Mishra put the total strength of the BSP at 109. The 40 rebels had no option but to remain with the BSP, he contended.

On whether they would be asked to quit the Cabinet, he said a decision would be taken shortly.

Thus, in a fluid scenario like this, Mulayam can bank less on the rebels who had crossed over in 2003 to help form his government, and more on friends in the Opposition.

This is also because MLAs are now looking for greener pastures. If Mayawati is to be believed, many of the rebels are repenting and want to “go back home”.
A minor change in equations can turn the tables on the CM, as his government’s numerical strength fell sharply from 230-odd to 207 today. In fact, it was the Oppositions ill-preparedness that helped him win the trust motion.

Significantly, the Samajwadi Party had come fully prepared to face the Opposition onslaught.

This was probably the reason that Minister for Urban Development Mohammad Azam Khan and Minister for Revenue Ambika Chaudhary demanded a division, even after the House adopted the confidence motion by a voice vote.

So, where did the Mulayam Government falter? An answer to this lies in the desperate calls that the government made to all its MLAs to ensure that they turned up for voting on the confidence motion.

All the MLAs probably did not get the message, said SP leaders. Minister for PWD and Energy Shiv Pal Singh

Yadav said some members of the Samajwadi Party could not reach Lucknow to take part in the voting. Minister for Transport Naresh Agarwal could be seen enquiring about the MLAs who were to come to the House from jail.

The Speaker said the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs should have ensured the presence of such MLAs.

This trick probably had worked to some extent, as the ABC MLA Akhilesh Kumar Singh could be seen jumping into the House from the Governor’s gallery, even after gates were closed. Singh said he had come to vote from jail. Mukhtar Ansari and another member, however, could not make it.

As leaders of major opposition parties sang different tunes, there was no one to take note of such developments.

Despite discordant notes on the issue of action against the Minister for Haj and Minority Welfare Haji Yaqub Qureshi, a cordial atmosphere was witnessed in the House early in the day with the chief minister trying to keep members in good humour.

He not only tried to answer most of the questions during question hour, but also nearly agreed to most of the demands raised by members.

First Published: Mar 01, 2006 02:03 IST