Monday, January 31, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Sonia courts arrest
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Jan 30 — The Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, today led her party on the agitational path and courted arrest along with senior leaders and workers in protest against the Centre’s “anti-people’’ policies and “saffronisation of polity’’.

The entire top brass of the Congress, including members of the Working Committee, AICC office-bearers and those of its frontal organisations, were detained at the Tughlak Road police station after they tried to force their way to the Prime Minister’s residence.

Mrs Sonia Gandhi, who courted arrest for the first time after entering into active politics, led a protest march which started from the AICC headquarters and proceeded to the 7, Race Course residence of the Prime Minister.

“We were not allowed to go to the Prime Minister’s residence where we wanted to present a memorandum’’ a party spokesman, Mr Ajit Jogi, said adding that the party wanted to urge Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee to force the Gujarat Government to withdraw the controversial order permitting its employees to participate in RSS “shakas” (camps).

Barring Mrs Sonia Gandhi, a SPG protectee who was whisked away by her security personnel, all others were detained under the Delhi Police act and released nearly an hour later.

The Congress President was the first to break the rope cordon and later tried to push her way through the steel barricades when the police moved in. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Mr Madhavrao Scindia, was upfront forcing his way through the barricades while other joined him.

Earlier, Mrs Sonia Gandhi had administered a pledge to party leaders and workers to oppose the “growth of communal forces and assault on the Constitution’’. The party vowed to work towards ensuring protection of social and economic rights of the backward classes, women and minorities.

The protest was planned to coincide with the Martyrdom Day, which was observed today. The Congress President later flew to Sabarmati, Gujarat to address a rally aimed to focus the fight against the Gujarat Government’s order.

Addressing mediapersons, Mr Jogi said the move should be noted by the allies of the BJP and charged that the latter could not be trusted.

Prominent among those who courted arrest were — Mr Pranab Mukherjee, Mr Arjun Singh, Mrs Ambika Soni, Dr Manmohan Singh, Mr Jitendra Prasad, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mr Rajesh Pilot, Mrs Mohsina Kidwai, Mr Natwar Singh, Mr Bhajan Lal, Ms Selja, Mrs Santosh Chaudhary and Mr Jogi. Back


Sonia attacks BJP on review

AHMEDABAD, Jan 30 (PTI) — Congress President Sonia Gandhi today attacked the Vajpayee government’s proposal to review the Constitution and declared her party would oppose “tooth and nail” the “anti-society” policies of the BJP.

Addressing a rally here culminating the party’s countrywide “sankalp yatras” marking the martyrdom of Mahatma Gandhi, she charged the BJP with “contemplating an attack on democracy and the Constitution which provides for equal rights to every citizen without discrimination”.

Asserting the Congress was committed to protect the Constitution, Mrs Sonia Gandhi declared: “I and the Congress will oppose tooth and nail the policies of the BJP which went against a cohesive society”.

The Congress, she said, would keep up an “unrelenting pressure” on the BJP until it takes steps to rectify its “mistakes”, and pledged along with senior Congress leaders and thousands of partymen at the rally to “protect and respect” the Constitution.

Mrs Sonia Gandhi criticised the BJP Government in Gujarat for lifting the ban on state government employees’ participation in the RSS activities and said the decision has “exposed its real face”.

The decision would create a “wall” between employees of Gujarat and ran counter to the Constitution, she said. She said several commissions had raised doubts over the role of the RSS and the Sangh Parivar in different states and asked “How can they impose their agenda on the people?” reiterated her party’s resolve to “end their evil designs all inimical forces”, she said.

The CWC members — Mr Manmohan Singh, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, Mr Jitendra Prasada, Mr Rajesh Pilot, Mr Ahmed Patel, Mr A.K. Antony, Mr Madhav Singh Solanki and the Chief Ministers of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan — Mr Digvijay Singh, Mr Vilasrao Deshmukh and Mr Ashok Gehlot, respectively, GPCC President C.D. Patel and Gujarat CLP leader Amar Singh Choudhary were present at the rally.

A large number of party leaders from all over the country attended the ‘sankalp yatra rally’ at Kankaria football ground here and were administered a pledge by the Congress President to protect the Constitution, democracy, unity and integrity of the country.

Addressing the rally, the Chief Ministers of the Congress-ruled states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan lambasted the Gujarat Government decision of lifting ban on government employees from participating in the RSS activities and said any employee in their states joining the RSS would face dismissal.

They said the country and the Congress would never accept anyone spreading communal hatred among people on the basis of religion.

Referring to Narmada Project, the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr Digvijay Singh, said his state was not opposed to the project but would want the people of Gujarat agree to lowering of height of the dam by 19 feet.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh alleged the RSS and the Sangh Parivar outfits were fanning communalism and added his government had taken several steps to combat the malaise which included revival of the Minority Commission in Maharashtra.Back


BSP to oppose review

NEW DELHI, Jan 30 (PTI) — The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will oppose “tooth and nail” any attempt by the BJP-led government to review the Constitution and change its basic features, its President, Mr Kanshi Ram, said today.

While the BSP was in favour of further amending the Constitution, it would “oppose every move to undermine its socio-economic spirit and do everything to save its basic features, including a responsible parliamentary form of government,” he told a press conference here.

Welcoming the “warning sounded by the President on the government’s move to review the Constitution”, Mr Kanshi Ram said its basic framework included important provisions for safeguarding the interests of the downtrodden.

He said his party would take up the issue “in Parliament and on the streets” as the “minority BJP-led government wanted to continue in office by raking it up by hook or crook”.

Condemning Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Ram Prakash Gupta’s statement on the Ayodhya issue, the BSP leader said his party would “do everything within its strength to prevent these forces from going ahead with their conspiracy”.

LUCKNOW: A BSP leader, Ms Mayawati, on Sunday lashed out at the BJP, saying that her party would oppose its attempts to tamper with the “democratic and secular tenor of the Constitution in the name of reviewing it.”

“The BSP will not tolerate the BJP-led government’s attempt in tampering with the basic structure of the Constitution and will oppose the move both in and outside Parliament,” she told reporters here.

Questioning the “hurry” shown by the BJP in reviewing the Constitution, the BSP national Vice-President said that before making public its intention, the government should have announced it in Parliament or convened an all-party meeting on the issue.

KOCHI: Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said on Monday that President K.R. Narayanan had only suggested criteria and given some sane advice with regard to the question of reviewing the Constitution.

Addressing a press conference here, she hoped that the Constitution review committee would take due note of the presidential advice, calling for an analysis as to whether the constitutional provisions or the political leaders had failed.

She said there was a clear mention regarding a review of the Constitution in the election manifesto of the NDA and it was quite natural that the issue found mention in the Presidential Address.

Favouring a debate on the question of reviewing the Constitution in an integrated manner rather than going in for “patch-work” solutions and amendments, she said the ongoing attempts to even forestall such a debate were unwarranted and unfortunate.

Mrs Sushma Swaraj said it was a fact that during the past 50 years, the Constitution had undergone 79 ‘patchwork’ amendments and added there was nothing wrong in considering an overall and integrated review of the Constitution.

She said there were many questions like the eligibility of a person of foreign origin for the highest posts like that of Prime Minister and possible abuse of Article 356, which the fathers of the Constitution had never anticipated.

The BJP leader said her party, having only a simple majority in the Lok Sabha, could not unilaterally amend the Constitution. The support of various other parties, including the Opposition, was necessary for embarking upon a major review of various provisions. However, a debate on reviewing the Constitution was absolutely necessary and it would result in bringing in some very good suggestions.

She denied there was any dissent in her party with regard to the Women’s Reservation Bill. “The party had discussed the issue in various fora and had taken a unanimous stand. There is no ambiguity on the issue,” she added.Back

Statute review panel next week

CHENNAI, Jan 30 (PTI) — Union Law Minister Ram Jethmalani today said the committee to review the Constitution would be set up next week and asked to submit its report within six months.

On the opposition to the review, the minister, who was here on a transit halt, told reporters at Chennai airport that he could not understand why the opposition was raising hue and cry about the word review.

“Review is only having a look at the Constitution. Even if you find one part wrong, you have to look at it as a whole,” he said.Back

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh Tribune | In Spotlight |
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
119 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |