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Mulayam plays Advani, deals out a 'Ram' card

If L K Advani can do it, so can Mulayam Singh Yadav -- play the Ram card, that is.

So what do we have here but an announcement from the Samajwadi party president that a certain newly-created district in Lucknow would be accorded a very Ramayanic name, even if he had to move heaven and New Delhi?

"Jyotiba Phule Nagar (the district in question)," the defence minister announced royally, "will be renamed Chittrakoot Dam!"

Created during former chief minister Mayawati's regime, the district's 'unorthodox' name, according to Mulayam Singh, has 'hurt the sentiments of devout Hindus.'

"Naming the district Jyotiba Phule Nagar," thundered Mulayam Singh at an impressive gathering in Lucknow, "is nothing but a mockery of culture, religion, traditions and faith of the people. The SP will not tolerate it."

His party, he went on, was planning a three day meet at Chittrakoot to chalk out a strategy -- in consultation with the local saints and sadhus, of course -- for a nationwide campaign against the name Jyoti Phule Nagar.

"I am in favour of providing certain benefits to dalits and other downtrodden," Mulayam Singh said, "but not at the cost of the interest of upper caste people. They should not be denied their due share in power."

The defence minister promised the gathering he would raise Chitrakoot on every possible platform in the country and strongly condemned the Bharatiya Janata Party and Bahujan Samaj Party for entering into an alliance 'sans any principle or ideology.'

"Why," he asked the crowd. "did not the staunch followers of Ram (the BJP) demand the district be named Chitrakoot?"

As none of his listeners came up with an answer, Mulayam answered his own question.

"(Because) the BJP is greedy for power," he concluded, "This exposes their double standards."

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