Saturday, January 22, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

JD(U), Samata part ways
Tribune News Service and agencies

NEW DELHI, Jan 21 — The Janata Dal (U) today formally split with one of its constituents — the Samata Party deciding to part ways after moving the Lok Sabha Speaker for a separate group in the Lower House.

The formal split was triggered by the Election Commission’s decision last night to derecognise Defence Minister George Fernandes, as Samata Party President. In a day of swift political developments, the national executive of the Samata Party elected Ms Jaya Jaitley as President who in turn approached the Election Commission for formal recognition.

Simultaneously, Mr Fernandes met Lok Sabha Speaker G.M.C. Balayogi and informed him of their demand for the allocation of separate seats in the Lok Sabha.

Talking to UNI Mr Balayogi said he would take a decision in the matter in a week’s time.

Sources said the Speaker, though convinced of the split, will go through the motion of law under the Anti-Defection Act and give his decision. As a first step Mr Balayogi has sought the comments of Janata Dal(U) President Sharad Yadav on the recent development.

Meanwhile the Election Commission accepted Ms Jaya Jaitley as the acting President of the Samata Party and directed returning officers in the states going to the polls next month to accept the nomination forms signed by her on behalf of the party nominees.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the full Election Commission presided over by Chief Election Commissioner M.S. Gill here in the afternoon.

Earlier in the day, Ms Jaitley met the commission members and apprised them of her election as the acting President of the Samata Party at an emergency meeting of the party’s national executive committee here on Friday.

A copy of the resolution passed at the meeting electing Ms Jaitley as the party President and other relevant papers were submitted to the EC, besides electing her as the party chief, the executive committee, under the chairmanship of N.K. Singh, also vested Ms Jaitley with the exercise of all presidential powers, including signing of forms A and B under the election symbols order.

Talking to newspersons, Ms Jaitley said the developments in the JD(U) Parliamentary Party following the EC’s order would not in any way affect the NDA government as the new entity, whose name is yet to be finalised, would support the Vajpayee government and share power.

It appeared that the warring groups had reached a point of no return when Union Agriculture Minister Nitish Kumar alleged that the JD (U) leadership had betrayed them by sending copies of the merger document to the Election Commission when there were no such move. No unanimity was reached on the issue, he added.

Mr Kumar said the documents were half heartedly signed by some Samata members at the steering committee meeting held on December 25. But it was decided that the document should not be proceeded with despite some signatures were secured since there were differences over its content. Moreover, the merger had not taken place as the national executive of the Samata Party had decided on January 6 against the merger and to retain the identity of the Samata Party.

Challenging Mr Nitish Kumar’s statement, JD (U) spokesperson M. Raghpathy said that entire Samata leadership barring Mr Nitish Kumar had signed the documents. “We did not force them to do so,” he said.

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