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Congress raises the pitch on U.P.

Special Correspondent

Party questions State Government's tenability

Kapil Sibal says 37 MLAs are disqualifiedYechury for floor test

New Delhi: Even as its critical allies and coalition supporters remain unconvinced of the need to impose President's rule in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress on Saturday argued vigorously that the Mulayam Singh-led Government has lost its moral and legal tenability and legitimacy. This came amidst news that the Governor sent a report to the Centre stating that the Government stood reduced to a minority, considering the situation in the light of the recent Supreme Court judgment on defections.

"It is important that all political parties should ask Mr. Mulayam Singh to step down on moral grounds," Union Minister for Science and Technology Kapil Sibal said after spelling out a detailed interpretation of the judgment.

Briefing mediapersons, Mr. Sibal said the 37 legislators who formed the Loktantrik Bahujan Dal (LBD), splitting away from the Bahujan Samaj Party, stood disqualified in the wake of Supreme Court's "historic judgment" of February 14.

Mr. Sibal's views were reiterated by UPCC president Salman Khurshid at a separate press conference, and again later by party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi who asked "what else is the option" before the Centre in the wake of the judgment.

Asked how the Congress came to this conclusion since the judgment itself disqualified only 13 MLAs who originally belonged to the BSP but crossed the floor and later formed the LBD along with 24 other MLAs Mr. Sibal said the court had accepted the plea that sought the disqualification of all 37 legislators. "Which means that all 37 stand disqualified and the Government of Mr. Mulayam Singh [being in power] from August 29, 2003 to February 14, 2007 was unconstitutional."

Arguing that the Samajwadi Party-led Government had no legitimacy left, Mr. Sibal said there was no guarantee that Mr. Mulayam Singh would not engineer more defections if he were allowed to prove his majority on February 26. "A still-born baby cannot be given a fresh lease of life."

As for the Bommai case judgment according to which only a floor test can determine the fate of a government under such a situation the Minister asked: "Where is the question of a floor test when Mr. Mulayam Singh did not have the right to rule in the first place?"

To a question what stopped the Centre from dismissing the Mulayam Singh Government, Mr. Sibal clarifying that he was speaking on this count in his personal capacity said: "The Government should not shirk its constitutional obligation to prevent the murder of democracy." Mr. Singhvi indicated that being a coalition government, it was not a decision that could be taken by the Congress alone, and that the process was a continuing one.

According to informed sources, Mr. Sibal's arguments reflected the detailed case made by the Governor in his report to the Centre on how and why the Chief Minister stood stripped of a constitutional mandate.

Rashtriya Janata Dal leader and Union Minister Lalu Prasad was reported to have observed in Patna that the only question that remained was whether the Supreme Court verdict would be respected and honoured by the Chief Minister. Mr. Prasad favoured President's rule.

Left position

However, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury said only a floor test could determine the majority of a government. "This has been our principled position since the first dismissal of an elected government in 1959." On the Congress' contention that the Government was illegal, he said: "It is not a question of which argument is correct or wrong; the question is one of who enjoys a majority."