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When Atal sensed the contents of the envelope, Rajiv got trapped in Mulayam’s ‘bet’, read interesting political stories


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It is about 1998. Atal Bihari Vajpayee became the Prime Minister for the second time. This time the scope of NDA was bigger under his leadership. Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK was also involved in this. The political crisis started as soon as the government started its work. Three MPs from Jayalalithaa’s party were made ministers at the Centre. In this, Sadapati R became the Minister of Surface Transport. A corruption case broke against Mathaiya as soon as he assumed office. A Chennai court issued summons to him on charges of illegally acquiring property. It was not even two weeks since Vajpayee became the PM again and the credibility of the government was in question. So he took Mathaiya’s resignation and freed him from the cabinet. Mathaiya was able to remain a minister for only one month.

When Atal asked the contents of the envelope

Mathaiah was close to Jayalalithaa. She was angered by his resignation. He wrote a letter to Atal that cabinet members Buta Singh, RK Hegde and Ram Jethmalani were also accused of corruption, they should also be sacked. Several BJP leaders tried to pacify Jayalalithaa in separate meetings, but the crisis continued. Eventually, Telecom Minister Buta Singh was also dropped from the cabinet. There was some peace in the middle of the standoff, but the differences with the AIADMK quota ministers did not end. On asking Vajpayee, Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha went to Chennai to meet Jayalalithaa. When Jayalalithaa came to drop Yashwant Sinha out after a long conversation and following the usual formalities, she held an envelope.

Sinha put it in his coat pocket and came to Delhi and opened it in his office. It had some new demands and a list of ongoing investigations against Jayalalithaa. The expectation was clear, but Sinha kept the envelope aside and went to meet Atal. He told Atal everything about the meeting and became silent. Still smiling, Atal kept looking at Yashwant. When he didn’t say anything, Atal himself asked, ‘You didn’t discuss the envelope?’ Sinha had no idea that Atal was aware of this. Jayalalithaa later withdrew support and Atal’s 13-month government fell by one vote.

disintegration of congress

disintegration of congress

After the demolition of the disputed structure in Ayodhya in 1992, protests against the then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao had intensified in the government and the Congress. He was also accused of delaying the investigation of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. Another controversy surrounding Rao was his holding the post of Prime Minister and Congress President simultaneously. A section within the Congress was vocal about the party’s one-person-one-post principle, but Rao was unwilling to give up. Arjun Singh faction tried to pass a resolution against it in the Congress session held in Surajkund in 1994, but it overshadowed itself. He got the resolution passed that the system of ‘one person, one post’ should not be applicable in the context of the post of Prime Minister. However, the standoff did not end there.

The dissident lobby of the Congress opened a front against Rao on 19 May 1995 at the Talkatora Stadium. Arjun Singh, ND Tiwari, Makhanlal Fotedar etc. together formed the Congress (Tiwari) faction. Mohsina Kidwai, who was close to Indira Gandhi was also involved in this. Before the convention at Talkatora Stadium, Fotedar met Mohsina and said that Sonia Gandhi wants you to be a part of the anti-Rao camp as she is not satisfied with his performance. This has been disclosed by Mohsina Kidwai himself in his biography ‘My Life in Indian Politics’. Mohsina has also admitted that it was a wrong decision to join the Tiwari group. Before trusting Fotedar, he should have spoken to Sonia Gandhi whether he had actually said such a thing? Sonia never publicly commented on the breakup. On August 24, 1995, in a public meeting in Amethi, he raised questions on the delay in the trial of Rajiv Gandhi’s killers. When Sonia became the president in 1998, most of the faces again came back to Congress.

Rajeev trapped in Mulayam’s ‘bet’

Rajeev trapped in Mulayam's 'bet'

The year 1989 took an interesting turn in the politics of UP. Congress was thrown out of power and possibilities opened for Janata Dal. The central leadership decided the name of Chaudhary Charan Singh’s son Ajit Singh and Mulayam got an offer to become the deputy CM. At one juncture, Mulayam played the trick of voting to choose the face and left Ajit Singh behind in the Chief Minister’s race by five votes. Mulayam became CM for the first time by securing majority with the help of BJP. However, just a year later, after police firing on kar sevaks in Ayodhya, the BJP withdrew support. With the help of his ‘well-wishers’ in the Congress, Mulayam sought Rajiv Gandhi’s support.

Mulayam assured that you help us in UP, we will help you in Delhi. Mulayam saved the government, but the Congress, facing the charge of ‘anti-Hindu’, suffered a double blow. Not only did the Hindu vote slip away from the Ayodhya episode, Mulayam’s activism in this matter also slipped away the minority votes from the Congress. A few months after taking support, Mulayam resigned from the post of CM and recommended dissolution of the assembly. With this, the doors for the Congress to return to power in UP were also closed for a long time.

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