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HVK Archives: It was Azad, not Kesri, behind show

It was Azad, not Kesri, behind show - The Hindustan Times

S. S. Banyal) ()
February 23,1998

Title: It was Azad, not Kesri, behind show
Author: S. S. Banyal)
Publication: The Hindustan Times
Date: February 23,1998

Congress President Sitaram Kesri was having his afternoon siesta
yesterday when he was abruptly woken up and told about the dismissal of
Kalyan Singh Government in Uttar Pradesh.
His first reaction was a blank face.
Either he may not have expected the toppling of the BJP government so
soon or it could be ascribed to his total ignorance as to what was the
party doing be hind his back.
Surprisingly, however some of the other Congress leaders had come to
know about the UP developments much before Mr Kesri and at least one of
them spoke to Governor Romesh Bhandari. To his specific question about
the fate of Kalyan Singh Government with the withdrawal of support by
the Loktantrik Congress, the Governor reportedly told the Congress
leader that the Kalyan Singh Government would be dismissed during the
The Congress leader was quite happy but was not convinced whether the
Governor could do that in such a short time. But contrary to
expectations, Mr Bhandari dismissed the Government within 12 hours of
the withdrawal of support without giving the Chief Minister the
opportunity to test his majority on the floor of the House.
Whether Mr Kesri had been associated with the UP development is in
doubt because otherwise he should have been the first person in the
Congress to know about it. But he was perhaps kept out of this while
other leaders including 10 Janpath was the first to be informed about
the "happy development".
According to party sources the senior leaders were vying with each other
to reach 10 Janpath telephonically first so that they here able to
inform Mrs Sonia Gandhi about the developments in UP.
However, since these leaders could not talk to her they had to contend
with leaving messages with Mr A. C. George with the request to tell Mrs
Gandhi that so and so rang up and wanted to give "some inside
information about UP developments".
Incidentally her office was getting all the information from Lucknow
directly, sources said.
But it would also be unfair to say that Mr Kesri was totally unaware as
to what was the plan of action which some of the Congress leaders were
about to implement. The Loktantrik leaders had been seen at the house of
a senior Congress leader last week and Mr Jagdambika Pal, who has many
friends in the Congress party was quite active here during the last few
days. He had probably met Kesri also.
Mr Kesri has in fact been telling newsmen at the AICC office that some
big surprise was awaiting them. Perhaps he was giving broad hints about
the toppling of the Kalyan Singh Government in UP. But the Press did not
take the hint.
However when actually the drama was enacted yesterday Mr Kesri was
deliberately kept out of it and the whole thing was handled by Congress
Working Committee member Ghulam Nabi Azad.
Although the Congress is not claiming its direct hand in the toppling
game yet, Mr Azad had been having secret parleys with the Independent
MLAs and the Loktantrik MLAs.
He even met the Independent MLAs in Maharashtra and perhaps it was
because of the information collected from these MLAs that he could
declare yesterday, that within 15 days the governments of Maharashtra
and Rajasthan would also meet the fate which Mr Kalyan Singh had met.
Meanwhile the Congress party is not going to reap any electoral benefits
>from the UP developments because the dismissal of the Government on the
eve of polling had left no time for manipulation and the voters could
not be influenced at the last moment.
But there was discernible jubilation in the party over the turn of
events because it was Kalyan Singh who had caused a split in the
Congress legislature party in the State and now those very people had
ditched him by walking out of his government.
With most of the senior Congress leaders away in their respective states
on election tours, Mrs Sonia Gandhi is being kept fully posted with the
developments in UP. A Congress delegation to be led by Mr Azad is also
scheduled to meet President K. R. Narayanan in the evening.
According to party sources, the delegation would recapitulate before the
President the events of 1995 when Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, who had faced
a similar situation and was not allowed to test his majority on the
floor of the House. The delegation would urge the President to apply
uniform standards in similar situations.

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