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Cong tries to convince allies on central rule in UP

Ruling Congress party leaders appear to be making desperate attempts to convince allies on central rule for UP.

india Updated: Feb 17, 2007 13:56 IST

Ruling Congress party leaders on Saturday appeared to be making desperate attempts to convince allies on central rule for "lawless" Uttar Pradesh even as the governor was set to meet President APJ Abdul Kalam in New Delhi.

Following the February 14 Supreme Court judgement that disqualified 13 Bahujan Samaj Party legislators who had defected to Uttar Pradesh's ruling Samajwadi Party, Governor TV Rajeshwar is believed to have sent his report to the Centre recommending the dismissal of the state government.

The 13 legislators had helped Chief Minister Mulayam Singh form his government in 2003.

At the Centre, although senior cabinet ministers have held discussions with both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi over the issue, the ruling party is in a fix over objections from its Communist allies.

"It has to be done on the floor of the house," said Prakash Karat, general secretary of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), as his party opposes the use of Article 356 that enables the imposition of President's Rule in a state.

Karat had conveyed his displeasure to Manmohan Singh and Gandhi through External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who held talks with the allies on Friday.

The CPI-M, Communist Party of India (CPI), Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and the Forward Bloc extend crucial outside support to the Congress-led government.

Congress leaders are very firm that they want President's Rule in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh as they "have no faith in the Mulayam Singh government for conducting free and fair elections." The state is scheduled to have elections before May.

Congress chief Gandhi too had said that the people of Uttar Pradesh believed that free and fair elections might not be possible.

The party has supporters in Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and former prime minister VP Singh who have said the polls should be held under President's Rule.

"Our leaders are trying to convince our allies that there would be no chance of fair elections unless it is held under the Centre's rule," a Congress leadersaid.

While the Congress' Uttar Pradesh unit is keen on presidential rule, the national leadership appears to be treading cautiously to avoid embarrassment for the prime minister and the party president.

The party and its government had faced severe criticism for the imposition of central rule in Bihar and Goa in 2005 and attempts to topple the opposition-led government in Jharkhand in 2006.

First Published: Feb 17, 2007 13:48 IST