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March 20, 1998

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BSP to vote against Vajpayee

The five-member Bahujan Samaj Party will vote against the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government during the confidence motion, and will support the Congress and United Front's consensus candidate for the Speaker's post.

Addressing a hurriedly called news conference in Delhi, BSP supremo Kanshi Ram also announced his exile from electoral contests till 2003. Till then he would concentrate on building a social movement, he said while trying to explain the reason for his defeat. He would contest the election only when he was in a position to romp home with 'Bahujan Samaj' support, without canvassing for even a day.

Kanshi Ram said his party's primary goal is to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party. It was holding discussions with both the Congress and UF leaders in an effort to arrive at a consensus on the candidate for Speaker.

''Their consensus candidate is acceptable to me,'' he said.

The BSP leader claimed the BJP government, driven by inherent contradictions, could fall any moment.

''I will not be surprised if the government fell within 10 days,'' he said.

He accused the BJP of offering the home portfolio to former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati, and a sum of Rs 50 million to some BSP MPs to secure their support for the confidence motion.

Kanshi Ram alleged that BJP leader Lalji Tandon, a close associate of Vajpayee, had approached Mayawati in this connection five days ago while Kalraj Mishra, another senior leader, attempted to speak to him.

He accused UP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh of getting in touch with his party MP Akbar 'Dumpy' Ahmed and offering him a ministerial berth if he abstained from voting during the crucial trial of strength. Dumpy, elected from Azamgarh, was present at the news conference.

Kanshi Ram, describing the BJP as the mahabrasht (most corrupt) party in the country, alleged the 'going rate' for MPs is around Rs 50 million and a ministerial berth. The same party had earlier given Rs 5 million each to 34 UP MLAs for their support in the assembly, he alleged.

With this kind of behaviour the BJP has given a go-by to their avowed political plank of fighting corruption and criminalisation of politics.

"The day the Kalyan Singh government inducted some ministers with criminal background, their harping on criminalisation of politics virtually stopped," he said.

Similarly, corruption ceased to be an issue for the BJP ever since the Kalyan Singh government was installed with the help of 'purchased' legislators.

"The dalits and lower strata of the society stands to suffer by such corrupt practices," he said.

Kanshi Ram said though the BSP fared badly in the Lok Sabha election, its vote percentage was on the upswing -- it is now the fourth largest national party in terms of the total number of votes polled.

''The BSP is keen on general elections at frequent intervals since every election has seen the party's vote percentage swelling,'' he said.

He said his party and the BJP could never come together since they were poles apart in ideology. While the BSP stood for social change, the BJP is committed to the status quo and believes in Manusmruti.

Kanshi Ram saw a link between the Central Bureau of Investigation registering a case against Mayawati in the purchase of float pumps and the BJP's attempts to secure BSP support in Lok Sabha.

He alleged that the CBI case was part of the BJP efforts to browbeat his party into supporting Vajpayee.

"(The CBI) had become active only after the BJP alliance government came at the Centre. We know how to face CBI tactics having political overtones,'' the BSP chief said.

He said the pumps -- as many as 157 -- were purchased during President's rule in UP in 1996, not the Mayawati regime. The BSP came to know about the registration of the corruption case against Mayawati only from the media as no notice has been received in this regard.

The BSP chief said the purchase was made by officials, after floating tenders, from a Madras-based private company. The case has gone to court for arbitration as the company was now demanding an additional Rs 2.5 million.

''The BJP," he said, "is out to project others as corrupt to conceal its corrupt face.''


Elections '98

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