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Mayawati’s faustian bargain
By PM Damodaran, Lucknow

In exchange for being allowed to rule Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati may choose not to allow criminal proceedings against Advani, Joshi and others

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Ms. Mayawati is unlikely to order, at least for the time being, the revival of criminal proceedings against the Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani and other Bharatiya Janata Party and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders in the Babri Masjid demolition case if the bonhomie between the two leaders is any indication.

What other proof is required than the decision of Advani to participate in the Dhikkar (condemnation) rally, organised by the Bahujan Samaj Party in Lucknow on September 28 along with the BSP supremo, Kanshi Ram. What has caused surprise is the fact that the state BJP leadership, including the party chief, Vinay Katiyar, was unaware of Advani's plan to attend the BSP rally in the state capital. Advani's decision to participate in the rally was jointly taken by him and Mayawati keeping the state BJP leadership in the dark. Obviously Deputy Prime Minister has cultivated a good political rapport with the UP chief minister for his survival.

The date on which Advani is expected to address the BSP rally in the state capital is significant. It is five days after the eight-week period set by the Supreme Court for the UP government to take a decision on the revival of criminal proceedings against Advani and other Sangh leaders who, among others, also include the Union ministers Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharati.

It may be recalled that the apex court on July 29 this year had given eight weeks time to the UP government to take a decision on the revival of the proceedings against Advani and others in the mosque demolition case. The Supreme Court's directive had come on a writ petition filed by journalist Kuldip Nayar, Mohammad Aslam and others who had challenged the order of the Allahabad High Court of February last year quashing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chargesheet against the Sangh Parivar leaders in the case. The court had quashed the proceedings on the ground that the notification issued by the state government was improper and defective.

But while delivering the judgement, the High Court had significantly stated that the mistake could be corrected by the state government by issuing fresh notifications in the case after getting clearance from the court. But the state governments since February last year under Rajnath Singh, President's rule and Mayawati had been dilly-dallying on the issue. The eight-week period given by the Supreme Court to the state government is expiring on September 23. The state government is apparently not in a hurry to take a decision.

Chief Minister Mayawati has given preoccupation with the annual budget in the state legislature as the reason for the delay in taking a decision. She said that she had been busy with the budget session and could not spare time to take a decision on the revival of proceedings so far. 

Speculation is rife that the state government may seek more time from the Supreme Court to deliberate on the matter. This may also help the chief minister to keep Advani and other Sangh leaders on the tenterhooks for more time. On his part, the Deputy Prime Minister has agreed to participate in the rally to keep Mayawati in good humour, so that she does not order the revival of criminal proceedings against him. But Advani is also clever to attend the rally on such a date to make it sure that the Mayawati government does not issue fresh notifications before the stipulated time set by the apex court.

Mayawati is in a Catch-22 situation on the issuance of fresh notifications. She has to decide between the survival of her government and the loss of Muslim vote. If she issues fresh notifications, it will be at the cost of her government and if not, she will lose the minority support because then her action will expose her party's lack of love for Muslims. The BSP derives its strength from the support of Dalits and the minority community. But either way, she is a loser.

Mayawati, on her part, has defended the participation of Advani in her party's rally maintaining that after all BJP and the BSP are planning to contest any future elections in Uttar Pradesh jointly.

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