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BJP, BSP 'will fight LS polls together'

By Neena Vyas

NEW DELHI JULY 30. The Bharatiya Janata Party's Parliamentary Board today decided to continue the alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh after a meeting at the residence of the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, reviewed the situation in that State its entirety.

The view was that seat-sharing talks for the Lok Sabha elections should be held with the BSP in the next 10 or 15 days. The BJP, leaders said, favoured contesting 50 of the 81 seats in the State leaving the rest to the BSP.

The decision was a foregone conclusion for the problem arising out of the Taj Corridor controversy had been resolved yesterday after the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mayawati, hastily withdrew her demand that the Union Minister for Tourism and Culture, Jagmohan, be dismissed.

Today, the board sent out a positive signal: all was well with the coalition, the BJP and the BSP would fight the next Lok Sabha elections together, and Ms. Mayawati would continue as Chief Minister. In short, the formal decision was not to withdraw support from the Mayawati Government and, instead, work to strengthen the coalition. It was going to be business as usual.

After the meeting, the party general secretary, Pramod Mahajan, said that the Mayawati government would continue and that the BJP and the BSP would together fight the Lok Sabha elections scheduled next year.

Both the parties should observe the "coalition dharma", he said, and sort out their differences by talking to each other. In fact, the two parties should begin right away to prepare for fighting the coming Lok Sabha elections together, he suggested.

The State leaders who attended the meeting had "no complaints" against Ms. Mayawati's style of functioning, Mr. Mahajan said.

However, BJP sources indicated that the "problems" faced by the party in the State were discussed.

After Tuesday's high-drama, when the coalition nearly reached breaking point, and after the BJP achieved its objective with Ms. Mayawati withdrawing her demand for Mr. Jagmohan's resignation, today's positive signals were along expected lines.

However, the BJP's tough message yesterday had clearly gone home. It was unhappy with the state of affairs where its MLAs felt marginalised although the BJP was part of the ruling coalition led by the BSP, but any attempt to dictate terms to the Centre would not be tolerated. It was apparently conveyed to Ms. Mayawati that the demand for Mr. Jagmohan's resignation amounted to interference in the affairs of the Centre, and questioned the prerogative and judgement of the Prime Minister himself. The result was a quick surrender by Ms. Mayawati and "withdrawal" of her demand.

The two-hour meeting was attended by all the nine Parliamentary Board members — Mr. Vajpayee, L.K. Advani, Venkaiah Naidu, Murli Manohar Joshi, Jaswant Singh, Mr. Mahajan, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh. The party's State leaders including Vinay Katiyar, Lalji Tandon, Kalraj Mishra, Om Prakash Singh and the BJP general secretary from Uttar Pradesh, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, were present.

Related Stories:
U.P. crisis peaks, blows over
Dismiss Jagmohan: Mayawati

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