Friday, March 3, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Slogans greet Governor
Oppn boycotts Shastri’s address
Tribune News Service

SHIMLA, March 2 — The Governor, Mr Vishnu Kant Shastri was greeted with slogans of “RSS pracharak go back” by the Opposition Congress legislators when he arrived in the Vidhan Sabha to deliver his maiden address on the opening of the Budget session here today.

The Congress legislators were led by Mr Virbhadra Singh. They had assembled outside the main building to lodge their protest against the alleged involvement of Mr Shastri in the RSS activities.

Mr Virbhadra Singh said it was for the first time in Himachal Pradesh that such a demonstration had been held against the Governor.

The Congress legislators boycotted his address and continued to raise slogans outside the House. Mr Virbhadra Singh presented a memorandum to Mr Shastri, accusing him of having devalued the office of the Governor.

The Governor was received by the Speaker, Thakur Gulab Singh, on his arrival at the Vidhan Sabha. The agitating legislators continued to raise slogans when the Governor came out after delivering his address. They protested against Raj Bhavan having been “converted into the RSS headquarters by him.”

Mr Virbhadra Singh alleged that Mr Shastri was pursuing the “hidden agenda” of the BJP. Under his chancellorship, Himachal Pradesh University (HPU) here was being “saffronised”.

He said the Congress was not satisfied with clarification sent by Mr Shastri to him, denying the allegation that he had made any comment against the Congress.

Prominent among those who participated in the demonstration were Thakur Ram Lal, a former Governor, Mrs Vidya Stokes, Mr J.B.L. Khachi, Thakur Kaul Singh and Mr Rangila Ram Rao.

The memorandum of the Congress made it clear that the party was conscious of the dignity of the office of the Governor, but when the Governor chose to supplement the role of the ruling party by propagating its ideology and condemning the country’s most premier organisation, the Congress could not take it lying down”.

The party alleged that it was a sad commentary on the BJP understanding of the role of the Head of State that instead of choosing persons of eminence in administration, art and literature, it had picked up RSS “pracharaks”.

Mr P.K. Dhumal, Chief Minister, asserted that the Governor had not committed any impropriety by expressing his views on the move to amend the Constitution and said that Congress charge that he was functioning as an RSS “pracharak” was “false, malicious, motivated and in bad taste.”

Condemning the Congress action in boycotting Governor’s Address, he said even the President of India, Mr K.R. Narayanan, had publicly given his opinion on the issue and there was no reason for attributing motives to the Governor for the same act.

He said it was a fact that the Constitution had been amended more than 80 times and mostly by Congress regimes.

The fact that the letter written by Mr Virbhadra Singh, CLP leader, on the issue was released to the press even before it reached the Governor, clearly indicated the party had not acted in a dignified manner, Mr Dhumal said.

He said the RSS a was nationalist organisation which had come to the rescue of countrymen in trying times like Partition, cyclones, floods and other calamities. Its dedicated band of volunteers had rendered invaluable service to the country.

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