Says he will prove majority on floor of House; calls meet of party functionaries
LUCKNOW: Even as the Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre weighed the option of dismissing the Samajwadi Party Government in Uttar Pradesh in the light of Wednesday's Supreme Court judgment, Chief Minister Mulayam Singh set about mobilising his cadres for the impending electoral battle in the State.
Immediately on his return from Nainital in Uttarakhand, where he addressed a couple of election rallies on Saturday, Mr. Singh decided to convene a meeting of all the prominent office-bearers of the ruling party on February 21.
The meeting would be held at the SP headquarters.
He has directed all Ministers, MPs, MLAs, MLCs, mayors, corporators, presidents of district and city units, zilla panchayat chairpersons, chairmen of cooperative banks and directors of apex organisations to be present.
The decision to mobilise the Samajwadi cadres assumes significance in the backdrop of Mr. Singh's statement at an election rally in Nainital earlier in the day.
While refusing to step down, he dared the Centre to dismiss his Government. He reiterated that he would prove his Government's majority on the floor of the Vidhan Sabha on February 26.
SP sources indicated that the party president would chart the future strategy, which would depend on what action the Central Government took on Governor T.V. Rajeswar's report. Even if no action is taken by the Centre till February 21, given the stand of the Congress allies, particularly CPI (M), the Chief Minister will waste no time in gearing up his party machinery for the Assembly elections, sources said.
While he explored the political option to take on his opponents, his party leaders launched a counter-offensive. SP's Rajya Sabha MP and former Advocate-General of Uttar Pradesh, Virendra Bhatia, said that confusion was being created with intent to impose President's rule.
`Duly elected Government'
Mr. Bhatia told reporters that the Mulayam Singh Government was a duly elected Government, which, according to legal experts, should not be disturbed. Without naming the Opposition parties, he said the Supreme Court judgment was being wrongly interpreted by those who had been trying to dislodge the Government for the past three years.
Pointing out that only 13 MLAs were disqualified by the court, the former Advocate-General said the other 24 members (of the Loktantrik Bahujan Dal) were, as of today, members of the House.
He said only the Speaker had the authority to decide on the status of the members.
He said the Bahujan Samaj Party did not file a petition in any court seeking the disqualification of the 24 MLAs.
Mr. Bhatia sought the resignation of the then Speaker, Kesari Nath Tripathi, as Uttar Pradesh BJP president, on moral grounds, as he delivered the August 2003 ruling.