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BJP hints at UP ministry expansion
June 03, 2003 16:53 IST
In an apparent bid to keep the party intact and stem a possible rebellion in its ranks, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday hinted at an expansion of Mayawati's council of ministers in Uttar Pradesh after June 18.
Five ministerial berths, including two of Cabinet rank, have fallen vacant after the Ajit Singh-led Rashtriya Lok Dal withdrew support to the Mayawati-led BJP-Bahujan Samaj Party coalition in Lucknow on May 30.
The BJP's Jan Jagran Yatra-led by its state chief Vinay Katiyar ends on June 18 and the expansion is likely to take place soon after.
Following the unprecendented unity shown by opposition parties in trying to topple the Mayawati government, the BJP has become aware of its vulnerability.
Rashtriya Kranti Party chief Kalyan Singh, who has played a crucial role in bringing about opposition unity, has claimed that several BJP legislators are in touch with him.
Nine independent legislators on Monday, however, said in a signed statement that they will continue to support the BSP-BJP government in the state.
These nine MLAs have assumed centrestage as the strength of the Mayawati government has been reduced to 212 in a House of 402 after the withdrawal of support by the RLD.
The nine MLAs reportedly took the decision in a meeting at the residence of an independent MLA Vijay Singh, an accused in the murder of senior BJP leader Brahmdutt Dwivedi.
A majority of these legislators have criminal antecedents and at least one of them had been declared an absconder. One of the signatories, Mukhtar Ansari, is a TADA (Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Prevention Act) accused and is currently lodged in Tihar jail.
Another signatory Madan Bhaiya is wanted in connection with several cases of kidnapping for ransom and murder and has been declared an absconder.
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