The story is from 1999. The Atal government had completed only 13 months that on April 14, the AIADMK withdrew its support. President KR Narayan asked Atal to prove his majority in 3 days. Atal government fell by one vote. Sonia Gandhi claimed that she has the support of 272 MPs and the UPA will form the government. Meanwhile, NDA convener George Fernandes called Advani and said that a special person wants to meet AAP. Meeting him will decide that Sonia will not be able to form the government. But, this meeting will not be me or yours but at Jaya Jaitley’s house.
Advani left his security squad to meet that special person and went to his house in Jaya Jaitley’s car, so that no one would know. When Advani reached, he saw Mulayam Singh Yadav, the then president of the Samajwadi Party, sitting there. Mulayam told Advani that it was his promise that 20 SP MPs would not support Sonia Gandhi as PM. Mulayam put a condition for this. He said that he would oppose Sonia on the condition that the NDA would not stake claim to form the government again and would recommend dissolution of the Lok Sabha. Advani kept the promise of re-election and Mulayam opposed to Sonia.
Atal did not want early elections
The BJP-led NDA was ousted from power in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections amid shouts of ‘India shining’ and ‘feelgood’ slogans, while the party’s strategists were so confident of the atmosphere that they did so even before the end of their term. Election was held. However, the then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee did not want the elections to be held prematurely. In fact, in October 2003, in the assembly elections of all the three states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, BJP won a landslide victory by ousting the Congress from power. Due to this the confidence of the party reached the seventh sky. The opinion polls of the media also started giving wind of the chances of victory. The term of the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly was also ending in 2004. Chandrababu Naidu, who was included in the CM and NDA, was also in favor of holding elections soon. However, there was only one adamant who did not agree with this view. But, accepting the demand of the party and allies, he took it forward. The Lok Sabha was dissolved on 6 February 2004 itself. Due to this, the elections to be held in October-November 2004 were held in April-May. However, even before the elections, some of the allies of the BJP had started giving indications of switching sides in favor of the Congress. In a state like UP, BJP could win only 11 seats out of 80 and was out of power. Later, LK Advani admitted that a major reason for the defeat was the overconfidence of the party leaders. He became so convinced of the popularity that the ground truth was ignored. Mistakes were made in the candidate selection and 50% of the sitting MPs of the party lost.
Minister’s department turned into a fight with an officer
In UP these days, letters containing complaints from ministers to officers are going viral. However, this tussle between bureaucracy and political faces is not new in UP. In 1999, even the minister’s department was changed from officer to officer. It happened that Prem Prakash Singh was the Minister of State for Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Department in the Ram Prakash Gupta government. The cabinet minister in his department was Fagu Chauhan, who is presently the governor of Bihar. Promila Shankar came as a secretary in the department. His relationship with the departmental minister was not smooth regarding the division of work. Premprakash Singh clashed with the secretary over a tender. The matter did not stop here. Even further, the minister and the officer became face to face over a lease of fishery form. In fact, this form of Hamirpur was raised on a lease of only 30 thousand and the minister wanted to continue it. But, the officer got it bid again and after that it was auctioned for about Rs 15 lakh. After this the fight between the minister and the officer came to the surface. The minister wrote a letter to the CM asking him to transfer the officer, but the hearing did not take place. Angered by this, Prem Prakash Singh held a press conference and made allegations of corruption and arbitrariness against Promila Shankar. If the pressure did not build up, the minister again made serious allegations against the officer in the media. After this, Promila Shankar wrote a letter to the CM calling the allegations of the minister baseless and sought permission to file a defamation claim against him. This letter was leaked to the media. Later, in a conversation with the media, the CM said that Promila Shankar is an honest and hardworking officer. Later, the minister’s portfolio was changed to the minister of state for cooperatives.