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Tuesday, September 22, 1998
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Bihar Assembly rejects Vananchal
Rabri Devi government wins trust vote

PATNA, Sept 21 (PTI) — The Bihar Assembly today rejected a separate tribal state Vananchal by 181-107 votes and also allowed the Rabri Devi government to withdraw a resolution passed for the creation of a separate state last year by an almost identical margin.

Seniormost Bihar minister Jagtanand Singh, who moved these two resolutions, also moved another resolution urging President K.R. Narayanan not to allow the Bill to be moved in Parliament and it was carried by voice vote.

Those who voted against the Vananchal Bill included 146 members of the RJD, nine Independents, 15 Congress members from the northern part of Bihar and six expelled CPI members.

After scoring a victory over the Vananchal issue, the ruling RJD sought a vote of confidence in the Rabri Devi ministry to thwart the reported move for the imposition of President's rule in Bihar.The RJD won the vote of confidence in the Rabri Devi government by 190-0 votes.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee asserted that the mere fact of a state government enjoying majority support was not enough to prevent the use of Article 356.

Mr Vajpayee recently said the choice was between majority and chaos even as the BJP mounted pressure for the dismissal of the Rabri Devi government, saying it had no justification to remain in power "now that the Governor has said there is a breakdown of Constitution."

Earlier in the day, the Vananchal issue held centrestage in Bihar where agitations were held for and against it even as the draft Bill was being debated in the Assembly and the Council.

Life in most parts of the tribal south Bihar area was thrown out of gear by the 12-hour "Jharkhand bandh" called by the JPP and the AJSU in protest against the RJD’s refusal to bifurcate the state.

The bandh, which was supported by all Jharkhand parties, disrupted the transportation of coal from CCL mines and affected attendance in central sector HEC, ECOM, CCL and CMPDI and work in banks, post offices and Telecommunication Department offices, official sources said.

Besides, educational and business institutions, including shops, remained closed.

The CPM rail-road blockade against the Bill, however, had partial impact and none in South Bihar where the movement of trains was normal, the Railway police said.

In rest of the state, rail and bus services were partially affected as CPM supporters along with those of the RJD attempted to disrupt them, official sources said, adding that a total of 500 supporters were arrested.


Opposition for President’s intervention
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Sept 21 — The Opposition parties led by the Rashtriya Loktantrik Morcha (RLM), of which the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) was a member, today condemned the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Central government’s move to invoke Article 356 of the Constitution to dismiss the Rabri Devi government in Bihar and impose President’s rule.

While the RLM leaders held an emergency meeting here and its President, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, advised the President, Mr K.R. Narayanan against taking cognisance of the "concocted report" prepared by the Bihar Governor, Mr Sunder Singh Bhandari, the CPM said that it had sought the intervention of the President to stop the "blatant violation" of the Constitution by the Governor.

Talking to the media, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav said all MPs of the morcha, numbering 56 in both the Houses of Parliament, would also meet the President to apprise him of the Centre’s "undemocratic move" to sack the Rabri Devi government.

Mr Yadav said the Bihar Governor had besmirched the dignity of the gubernatorial office and alleged that Mr Bhandari was acting as an agent of the BJP.

Mr Yadav said that Mr Narayanan should look into the political antecedents of Mr Bhandari, who was a hardcore RSS man. He alleged that Mr Bhandari was acting as a BJP leader rather than a Governor of a state and demanded that he should be recalled.

Criticising both the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, and the Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, he said the two were issuing statements only to destabilise that state government and added that the emerging situation was highly dangerous for the federal structure and democratic standards.

Mr Yadav took exception to the Prime Minister’s reported statement in Madhya Pradesh yesterday that the state government’s majority in the assembly would be no hurdle for invoking Article 356 and said it was highly deplorable and such things would erode the people’s confidence in democratic institutions.

Asked to comment on the Prime Minister rejecting the Opposition demand to recall Mr Bhandari, Mr Yadav said there was a lot of difference in his practice and preaching. He recalled Mr Vajpayee’s fast outside the Raj Bhavan in Lucknow when the Kalyan Singh government was ousted by Opposition parties and Mr Jagdambika Pal was made the Chief Minister and wondered if the Prime Minister had forgotten all those developments.

He alleged that the Centre had discriminated against Bihar in providing money for flood relief and said the consequences of destabilising the government would be disastrous.

On the other hand, the CPM general secretary to, Mr Harkishan Singh Surjeet, while addressing the newsmen said that the party had sought the intervention of the President to stop the "blatant violation" of the Constitution in Bihar. He, however, did not seek the removal of the Governor, Mr Sunder Singh Bhandari, and added that he was only doing what he had been asked to do.



Congress berates Centre's stand on Bihar
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Sept 21 — After having rallied round the Rabri Devi government in Bihar, the Congress has decided to send a delegation to meet the President to convey that imposition of central rule in that state would amount to misuse of article 356 by the Union Government.

The delegation consisting of Mr Sharad Pawar, Dr Manmohan Singh, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, Mr Shiv Shankar and Mr Madhav Rao Scindia is expected to call on Mr K.R. Narayanan, tomorrow, the party spokesman, Mr Ajit Jogi said today.

The Congress maintained that if the deteriorating law and order was the criterion being suggested by the Union Government to impose President’s rule in Bihar, then the situations in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra also warranted that such a rule be imposed there too.

"The BJP is maintaining double standards. We deplore attempts to impose President’s rule in Bihar. The situation is much worse in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra as also in Delhi and Rajasthan,’’ he said.

He also criticised the statement of the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee in which he said that having a majority alone was not enough and that President’s rule could be imposed. The party said it was not expected of the Prime Minister to give such a statement.

In fact, the Congress is launching a twin attack on the BJP-led coalition — one on the political plane and another on its handling of international affairs.

Another delegation of the party consisting of Mr Mukherjee and Dr Manmohan Singh is to call on Mr Vajpayee tomorrow.

The party wants to convey its viewpoint on the government’s handling of international affairs, speciallly in view of the fact that the Prime Minister is due to address the U N General Assembly later this week.

After the recent NAM Summit where the South Africa President, Dr Nelson Mandela mentioned the problem of Jammu and Kashmir, the Congress berated the government and said since its advent, Jammu and Kashmir had once again come on the international agenda.



Use of Article 356 if justified: Advani
Tribune News Service

MANESAR (Haryana), Sept 21 — The Centre will impose President’s rule in a state only if it is "constitutionally correct", Union Home Minister L. K. Advani said here today.

The government is of the view that Article 356 is meant to be used only under extreme conditions. The government is very particular to see that it is done in a manner which is politically justified and constitutionally correct," Mr Advani said.

Mr Advani pointed out that any decision on the matter would be taken by the Union Cabinet. He said the government did not agree with the view that Article 356 should be abrogated.


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