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CBI probe linked to UP crisis
Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow | August 25, 2003 18:09 IST
Last Updated: August 25, 2003 18:17 IST
Political observers in Lucknow believe the Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the Rs 1.75 billion Taj Heritage Corridor controversy could have triggered Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati's parting of ways with her coalition partner, the Bharatiya Janata Party.
In her letter to Governor Vishnukant Shastri, Mayawati blamed a conspiracy between some Opposition members and the BJP for the political crisis currently afflicting India's most populous state.
These sentiments were echoed in her long letter addressed to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee that she read out during her two hour-long address to 150,000 Bahujan Samaj Party workers who converged in Lucknow from different corners of the country for a BSP convention at the sprawling 25-acre Ambedkar Maidan.
Speculation was rife that Mayawati took the step after senior BJP leaders in New Delhi apparently expressed inability to bail her out of the Taj corridor controversy. CBI agents questioned state minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui for nearly five hours on Sunday.
After announcing her decision to resign at a state cabinet meeting on Monday morning, Mayawati called on Governor Shastri, seeking dissolution of the state assembly to be followed by a fresh election. She was, however, beaten in the race to Raj Bhavan, the governor's home, by BJP leader Lalji Tandon who gave Shastri a letter withdrawing support to the 18-month-old Mayawati-led BSP-BJP coalition government. But the chief minister had the last word, declaring, "I have not resigned nor do I have any inclination to step down."
Shastri is in a quandary about the Mayawati government's fate, only saying, "I am getting all the issues examined by Constitutional experts." The governor would only confirm that Tandon handed over the BJP's letter of withdrawal of support before Mayawati arrived at Raj Bhavan to demand dissolution of the state assembly and a mid-term election.
'They are indulging in horse-trading through offers of all kinds of allurements. The only way to check this dirty and petty politics is dissolution of the state assembly so that a fresh mandate of the people could be sought,' Mayawati stated in her letter to the governor.
"Until she is formally dismissed by the governor," one Constitutional expert told this correspondent, "Mayawati continues to remain chief minister."
PTI adds: Expressing apprehension about a possible "BJP design to harass her" in the Taj Heritage Corridor case by "misusing" the CBI, the chief minister said, "now, the BJP will not sit quietly and may take some action to harass me in the case."
"The BJP could go to any extent and there could even be an attempt to eliminate me," Mayawati said.
Accusing the BJP of indulging in "pressure politics," she claimed she had authentic information that the party was trying to bargain for maximum seats in the next Lok Sabha election by using the Taj Heritage Corridor inquiry. "There was a concerted effort on part of the BJP leadership to tarnish my image in the project as has been proved by the contention of Union Tourism Minister Jagmohan who had clearly indicated that my government was solely responsible for it," she said.
Mayawati said she had decided to snap ties with the BJP the day she had withdrawn the demand for Jagmohan's resignation, but waited only to give final shape to projects connected with Dalit emancipation which were inaugurated by her on Sunday.
More reports from Uttar Pradesh
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