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Congress willing to join alternative UP government

Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow | June 06, 2003 21:38 IST

The Congress will join the next government in Uttar Pradesh led by the Samajwadi Party if the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party-Bharatiya Janata Party combine falls. The Rashtriya Kranti Party of former chief minister Kalyan Singh and the Rashtriya Lok Dal of former Union agriculture minister Ajit Singh are also expected to join the alternative government.

Announcing this, new state Congress chief Jagdambika Pal, who had once been chief minister of the state for three days, said, "A meeting of all opposition leaders has been convened here [in Lucknow] on June 8 to chalk out a final strategy for the ouster of the corrupt Mayawati government."

Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav, Kalyan Singh, Ajit Singh and Pal will be among those attending this meeting, the first formal meeting of the parties which have risen up against the year-old BSP-BJP coalition.

Asked if this was yet another marriage of convenience, Pal claimed, "We were not hankering for power. Our objective is to rid the state and its people of Mayawati's misrule."

Asked about the Congress party's acceptance of Kalyan Singh, who was among the accused in the Babri Masjid demolition case, Pal said, "Well, far from being with the BJP, Kalyan Singhji is among those who have sworn to dismember the BJP, so there is nothing wrong in joining hands with him in this mission."

Earlier in the day, Pal led a delegation to Governor Vishnukant Shastri and demanded Mayawati's dismissal. He also sought the governor's intervention in ensuring a fair probe into the firing on Pal's motorcade on his arrival in Lucknow on Thursday.

Pal's public relations officer, Dinesh Singh, who was standing close to him on the open truck carrying them through the city's main thoroughfare suffered a gunshot wound and was taken to hospital. "If the bullet had missed him, it would have hit me," Pal said, and slammed the administration for terming it 'accidental fire'.

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