UPA cornered by own allies, BJP

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi, Oct 29 | Updated: Oct 31 2008, 04:39am hrs
Prominent allies of the UPA as well as the opposition BJP on Wednesday stepped up pressure on the Centre to haul up the Maharashtra government for failing to halt attacks on north Indians in the state in the light of a fresh hate crime in which a youth from Uttar Pradesh was lynched to death in Mumbai.

Dubbing the Vilasrao Deshmukh government in Maharashtra as a weak one, RJD chief and railway minister Lalu Prasad on Wednesday said it had failed to take stringent action against the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), as a result of which attacks against north Indians in the state was rising. LJP leader and Union steel minister Ramvilas Paswan was even more critical in his attack, demanding dismissal of the Deshmukh government.

On Tuesday, Dharam Dev, a youth hailing from Uttar Pradesh was killed in a local train by a group of people allegedly after abusing north Indians. Last week, a gun-wielding youth from Patna was shot dead by Mumbai Police in a bus in Mumbai triggering charges from Bihar politicians of a concerted campaign against people of their state in Maharashtra.

In the bid to pressurise the Centre, both the leaders spoke to PM Manmohan Singh as well as Congress president Sonia Gandhi in which a demand for an all-party meeting on the issue was raised. Earlier, Lalu threatened to suspend train movement in states where rail passengers and properties are repeatedly attacked.

The BJP, on the other hand, demanded that the Centre issue a directive to Maharashtra government under Article 355 for failing to protect the rights of individuals in the state. The party also accused the Congress-NCP dispensation in the state of encouraging attacks against north Indians. It is becoming increasingly clear that the ruling Congress-NCP government in the state is definitely, overtly or covertly, encouraging and supporting elements like MNS for extraneous political considerations, he said.

The SP and the BSP, both with significant vote bases in UP, also sought to put the Centre on the mat on the issue. While UP chief minister Mayawati wrote a letter to the Centre as well as Deshmukh seeking an immediate halt to the attacks, the SP general secretary Amar Singh warned that the Congress will have to pay dearly in the coming assembly polls in MP and Delhi.