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Nemesis or nirvana in numerical claims

WHO HAS the majority among the 40 BSP rebels ? Mulayam or Mayawati? This is the moot question today as this will decide the fate of the Mulayam government notwithstanding Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey?s ruling that in the light of the High Court judgment 40 BSP rebels would function as Loktantrik Bahujan Dal. His ruling is seen more as a preemptive move to check any further split in the group. The veiled threat is that any such move may invite disqualification.

india Updated: Mar 02, 2006 01:58 IST

WHO HAS the majority among the 40 BSP rebels — Mulayam or Mayawati? This is the moot question today as this will decide the fate of the Mulayam government notwithstanding Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey’s ruling that in the light of the High Court judgment 40 BSP rebels would function as Loktantrik Bahujan Dal. His ruling is seen more as a preemptive move to check any further split in the group. The veiled threat is that any such move may invite disqualification.

However, reports are that Mayawati will again display ‘her strength’ at Raj Bhawan tomorrow. The numbers, however, keep changing from ten to 28 even as Mulayam’s focus shifts from celebrations to counting numbers, ironically that too a day after winning the trust motion. If Feb 28 had brought him major reprieve both from the high court order and the Vidhan Sabha developments, March 1 was laden with troubles. And, as speculations about President rule in the state escalated Mulayam flew to Delhi and met Left leaders.

Apparently, tough men of the SP moved around in the state capital keeping a tab on BSP rebels while trouble-shooters in the party kept claiming that their number was not more than ten. “We knew even before the judgment that ten MLAs were in touch with BSP leader Mayawati.” However, this is being disputed by the BSP, which claims to have more than 28 of them with it.

Nonetheless, Mayawati has apparently decided to fight the battle politically.

Though she is not divulging her cards, the plan is to keep Mulayam on tenterhooks. Former advocate-general SC Mishra, who has been actively contesting the BSP MLAs’ disqualification case, said, “Why should we go to the Supreme Court when the judgment has gone in our favour?” Ironically, it is a judgment which seems to please both the camps.

Her game is clear. She wants the number to go against Mulayam so that the ball can shift from the Speaker’s court to the Raj Bhawan. And she also knows that in the prevailing political scenario at the Centre, fall of the government in number game will be much easier than the dismissal of the government. If Mulayam outwitted her by winning the trust motion, Mayawati is out to defeat him in his own game.

So let’s have a look at the numbers: If Mayawati’s claim of about twenty is accepted then the government will go provided the Congress actually succeeds in weaning away Choudhary Ajit Singh’s RLD from the coalition government. That Choudhary has been hobnobbing with the Congress is known to all.

Now a look at the figures: Mulayam claims support of 234 MLA’s (minus the Congress). These include all the 40 BSP rebels, 15 RLD and 16 Independents.

If Mayawati’s 20 and the RLD’s 15 withdraw support, his strength will fall to 199 as against the required strength of 202 in a house of 402. He can’t trust the Independents who are not known to sail a sinking ship.

Here will come the role of the Speaker. Will he disqualify four or twenty or take action against all the 40 BSP rebels? Will he accept these MLAs as a part of the SP (as is being claimed by party leaders) or members of the Loktantrik Bahujan Dal in accordance with the legal advice given to him? In case he accepts the legal advice, then will he move a petition for action against four MLAs who went to the Raj Bhawan?

Former secretary to the Vidhan Sabha, Bal Chand Shukla while admitting that they never faced such a crisis before, said that the Speaker could hear both the petitions, one of the BSP seeking disqualification of all the 40 rebels and another fresh petition of the Loktantrik Bahujan Dal demanding action against four or twenty?

As of today, the government is in crisis but is not collapsing till Maya weans away all the 40 or gets Lok Dal support along with 20-28 of the BSP rebels back home. The drama is likely to continue tomorrow.

First Published: Mar 02, 2006 01:58 IST