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Ajit Singh leaves Mayawati on tenterhooks

Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow | May 25, 2003 03:51 IST

The resignation of Union Agriculture Minister Ajit Singh and the subsequent withdrawal of Rashtriya Lok Dal ministers from the Uttar Pradesh Cabinet has put a question mark on the survival of the Mayawati-led government.

The RLD has 14 members in the state assembly.

Bahujan Samaj Party, Bhartiya Janata Party and Ajit Singh's RLD are the key constituents of the one-year-old ruling coalition in the state.

There is fear in the BSP-BJP camp that the next step of Singh would be the withdrawal of support to the government.

The first casualty came in the form of the cancellation of Mayawati's 15-day sojourn to Europe, Canada and the USA. Scheduled to leave on Saturday, Mayawati has postponed her departure by two days.

What had caused greater consternation in the ruling camp is Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's attempts to tap fence-sitters and once again try his skills at toppling the BSP-BJP regime, in which he had failed on two earlier occasions.

As a counter offensive, Mayawati too was understood to have detailed her close confidante and Excise Minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui, as well as a senior bureaucrat to forge a divide in the RLD ranks and woo them over to the ruling coalition.

"People in RLD were already so much disillusioned with Ajit Singh, that they would not mind switching loyalties to Mayawati," claimed a BSP leader. "But of course, there is no threat to her government as she was still in a comfortable majority."

According to the assembly records, BSP has a strength of 110, BJP 87, besides the support of independents and some smaller political outfits like Apna Dal, Hindu Mahasabha and the Loktantrik Congress Party.

In the UP assembly of 402 elected members (excluding one nominated member), Mayawati had recorded a support of 222 MLAs, the last time her government faced a trial of strength.

Even after the withdrawal of 14 RLD members, she would still command a strength of 208.


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