| As a veteran socialist with a never-say-die attitude, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav has always believed in the philosophy that it is better to count one's joys instead of one's sorrows, and one's friends instead of foes. Last week, as his numerous foes united to throttle him politically even as the state was readying for the crucial Assembly elections, Mulayam, a former wrestler, reached out to his friends. Not in Lucknow, where he has few, but in Delhi. "There is a sinister political conspiracy against us. All my enemies, the Congress, the BJP and the BSP, have united to finish us politically," said an angry Mulayam as he hopped from one high-powered address in Delhi to another to mobilise his forces. |
He has reasons to select Delhi as the stage for his fight. This is the home turf of his alleged "conspirators" who, according to him, got a PIL filed against him in the Supreme Court (SC), which resulted in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) being asked to conduct a preliminary investigation into assets owned by him, his MP-son Akhilesh Yadav and other members of his family. For Mulayam and his lieutenant, Samajwadi Party (SP) General Secretary Amar Singh, there was no better place than Delhi to revive their efforts at creating a 'Third Front' that would oppose both the ruling UPA and the Opposition NDA.
Mulayam and Singh said they were not against the probe, but they wanted it to be conducted by a judicial commission headed by a judge and not by the CBI. Armed with an audio CD purported to contain the conversation between the PIL petitioner and the judges, they are now mobilising political support. The leaders met CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat, who had taken a firm stand against the imposition of President's Rule; as also President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani, aiadmk chief J. Jayalalithaa, Telugu Desam Party chief N. Chandrababu Naidu and Asom Gana Parishad's Brindaban Goswami.
Not all were as eager for Mulayam's hand of friendship as the CPI(M), which could reap rich dividends from an informal seat-sharing arrangement with the SP in the coming elections. With just one MLA in the 403-member House, the Marxists are ready to go to any length to gain an extra seat in the state Assembly.
|LITANY OF WOES |
Under attack for law and order failures, Mulayam's troubles are mounting
|JANUARY 6, 2007: Criticised for not taking Nithari seriously, Mulayam orders a CBI probe into the killings. |
|FEBRUARY 14, 2007: The SC disqualifies 13 BSP defectors who supported the Mulayam Government. Seven of them were made ministers. |
|FEBRUARY 21, 2007: The EC announces seven-phase polls in Uttar Pradesh. |
|FEBRUARY 23, 2007: Governor T.V. Rajeswar sends a report to the Centre recommending President's Rule. Delhi refrains following Left pressure. |
|MARCH 1, 2007: CBI probe ordered into properties of Mulayam and family. |
The handing over of his case to the CBI is not Mulayam's only worry. The SC has also admitted a petition seeking contempt of court proceedings against Mulayam and Singh in connection with the alleged conversation between them regarding their alleged attempt at winning over the judges of the Allahabad High Court in connection with the BSP defection case, popularly known as the phone-tapping case. The conversation was recorded on a CD, but Singh blocked it from being broadcast on TV and also filed a case seeking inquiry into who had ordered the phone-tapping. While this petition is pending, an application was filed, saying that the conversation regarding "managing the judges" amounted to conspiracy to undermine judiciary.
Interestingly, the day the UPA Government came close to dismissing Mulayam's Government, the Election Commission (EC) announced the longest-ever seven-phase election schedule in the state, deciding to conducts the polls in the pattern of Bihar. It has declared all the 1.1 lakh polling stations as sensitive and plans to place them under direct supervision of Central paramilitary forces. It has also screened the records of top civil and police officials who are to be assigned poll duty in the state.
As if these were not enough, the United Democratic Front led by the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid has started baring its teeth, and the influential All India Muslim Personal Law Board has launched a campaign highlighting how "Maulvi" Mulayam had "ditched" the community. The Government's promise of providing bullet-proof cover to the make-shift temple at Ayodhya has angered the Muslim body. As Mulayam's cup of woes continues to overflow, the crucial state elections loom larger than ever.