Sunday, March 5, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

RJD men damage lines; bandh today

PATNA, March 4 (PTI, UNI) — Angry RJD men today stalled train movement in Bihar by removing fish plates, dislocating rail lines and staging dharnas on railway tracks to protest against the “unconstitutional and arbitrary” decision of Governor V C Pande to appoint NDA leader Nitish Kumar as Chief Minister.

RJD activists damaged tracks at Khusrupur, Karauta, Bakhtiyarpur, Pandarak and Parsa Bazaar stations on the Howrah-Delhi mainline section, an Eastern Railway spokesman told PTI.

Agitated party workers also sat on dharnas at several stations on the Gaya-Jehanabad route and the main line sections and “completely paralysed” train services, he said.

As a result 3285 up Tata-Patna Express, 3251 up Howrah-Danapur Express, 3039 up Janata Express, 3073 up Himgiri Express and 8622 Pataliputra Express were detained at stations, he said.

The 2306 Dn Delhi-Howrah Rajdhani, 8184 Dn Danapur Express, 3008 Dn Udayan Abha Toofan Express too were detained at Fatua, Karauta and Khusrupur stations, he added.

The RJD is opposing the Governor’s move and party President Laloo Prasad Yadav has called a state-wide bandh tomorrow.

Railway Protection Force personnel and senior police and railway officials reached the affected areas to prevent further damage.

Meanwhile elaborate security arrangements have been made in Bihar in view of tomorrow’s dawn- to dusk statewide bandh called by the RJD and other Left parties in protest against the Governor’s decision to call the National Democratic Alliance to form the state government.

State Director General of Police K A Jacob told UNI here today that adequate security arrangements had been made in the sensitive pockets to avoid any untoward incident. The Central para-military forces, including the rapid action force (RAF), would be deployed in the vulnerable areas, he added.

Mr Jacob said additional Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) had been deployed in and around the state capital to maintain law and order.

The RJD workers today staged dharna and demonstration in different pockets of the state paralysing the normal vehicular and train services.

The DGP claimed that some disturbances were reported in the early hours but now the security personnel had removed the blockades put up by the political party supporters.

NEW DELHI: Rail traffic to Bihar, West Bengal and the north-eastern states was disrupted today.

Northern Railway Chief Public Relations Officer Chandralekha Mukherjee said tonight that some trains had already been detained at stations enroute following the protests.

“When traffic on the Danapur division of Eastern Railway was stopped this evening, we switched the trains onto the tracks of north-eastern railway, but soon the agitation spread to Sonepur, Samastipur and Benaras on this sector,” she said.

Among others, the Mahananda, North-East and Guwahati Rajdhani Express trains were detained. “Since a state-wide bandh has been called in Bihar tomorrow, more trains are likely to be affected,” Ms Mukherjee said.


Nitish Kumar to prove majority on Mar 7

PATNA, March 4 (UNI, PTI) — Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has convened the state Assembly on March 7 to prove the majority of the ruling National Democratic Alliance in the state.

Talking to mediapersons here today, he said the NDA government in the state would obtain the vote of confidence much before the 10-day deadline set by Governor Vinod Chandra Pande.

Mr Kumar also hinted that his Cabinet would be expanded in a day or two. A major expansion would however take place only after his government won the vote of confidence on the floor of the House, he added.

While the state Congress leaders were trying to assuage the feelings of the party cadre, leaders of the National Democratic Alliance in Bihar were engaged in hectic parleys for mustering enough support to prove its majority.

All-India Congress Committee General Secretary and party political affairs in charge for Bihar Mohsina Kidwai landed in Patna this afternoon and met senior state leaders for a couple of hours, in an attempt to dissuade them from effecting a split in the party.

After the meeting at the residence of senior Congressman Nagendra Jha, Ms Kidwai appealed to the leaders to wait for a review of the stand.

According to party sources, the leaders pulled up Pradesh Congress chief Sadanand Singh at the meeting for his stand on supporting the RJD.

Later, some senior leaders raised the issue of a new Chief Minister in place of Ms Rabri Devi or Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav, the sources said.

Ms Kidwai has reportedly promised to place the demand before the central leadership.

Party MLA Veena Shahi strongly opposed the decision to support the RJD and said she would prefer the NDA.

Ms Shahi told reporters that “the whole party seems to be suffering from a death wish syndrome. They want to commit suicide knowing fully well that if we support the RJD we are finished forever as a party.”She categorically said if she had to make a choice between the NDA and the RJD, she would choose the NDA and not the RJD.The meeting, convened by Ms Kidwai, was attended by “just a few party MLAs,” PCC General Secretary Anil Sharma said.Mr Sharma said Ms Kidwai apprised them of the 15-point agreement the Congress had reached with RJD to work “on a common minimum programme.”

Referring to the Opposition parties’ criticism of Governor Vinod Chandra Pande for inviting the NDA to form the government, the Chief Minister, Mr Nitish Kumar, said: “The Governor has all the constitutional right to call us. We have given him the largest number of supporting members.”Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav had the support of only 126 members and his claim of having the support of 161 members was “false,” he said adding that Mr Yadav wanted more time to “indulge in horse trading.”Mr Kumar pointed out that Mr Yadav had the support of only 57 members in the Assembly when he had taken charge of the state in 1990 after which he ruled the state for 10 years.

“Why should I worry when I have the support of at least 152 members in the 325-member House,” he quipped.The Chief Minister said his government would publish a “white paper” on the financial status of the state and the misgovernance of the previous governments. A masterplan would also be prepared for putting the state’s development on the fast track, he added.

Commenting on the Bihar bandh called by the RJD tomorrow, he said: “Mr Yadav knows that no one will support his bandh and hence he has called it on a Sunday.” Former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi, in a fax message, today urged President K.R. Narayanan to immediately remove Governor Vinod Chandra Pande for his ‘‘partisan role’’ in the formation of the government.

RANCHI: The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (Soren) is likely to join the new government in Bihar.Morcha (Soren) is learnt to have bargained for at least four berths in the new Ministry besides, an assurance on statehood in return for the support of its 12 legislators to the Nitish Kumar-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.NEW DELHI: Janata Dal (United) expressed the hope that Congress MLAs in Bihar would exercise “conscience” vote during the trial of strength in the Bihar Assembly to be faced by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.Meanwhile, a CPI (ML) delegation met President K.R. Narayanan today and demanded immediate recall of Bihar Governor V.C. Pande who it alleged was “clearly flouting the spirit of fairness and democracy in the state”.

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