Tuesday, March 7, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Rift between BJP, allies
Call for rollback of fertiliser price
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, March 6 — Sharp differences emerged within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) today with allies of the BJP, urging the Government to roll back the hike in prices of foodgrains for families below the poverty line and fertiliser, announced in the Budget proposals for 2000-01.

Terming the Government’s proposal as “anti-poor”, a delegation of all allies in a memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, this morning expressed concern over the proposed “substantial reduction” of about 12 per cent in food subsidy and 4.5 per cent cut in fertiliser subsidy.

“Needless to highlight that the poor and the farmers being the adversely hit directly by these proposals, the same were not well conceived,” the memorandum said.

It said providing relief to the poor through the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) and for farmers through fertiliser subsidy was an aspect on which there was wider political consensus and added that the fertiliser price hike would in due course lead to escalation in prices of foodgrain causing further burden on the states on account of their commitment to the TPDS.

“This shall be the experience and consequences of all states. In view of the consequences of the said proposals, we urge upon your goodself to reconsider the proposals for increasing the issue prices of foodgrains for the TPDS and fertiliser price hike so as not to effect any increase in their prices,” the memorandum said.

The memorandum said the reduction in fertiliser subsidy would adversely affect farmers throughout the country.

The signatories to the memorandum were K Yerrannaidu (TDP); Devendra Prasad Yadav (JD-U); Raghunath Jha (Samata), Vaiko (MDMK); C Kuppusami (DMK); Trilochan Singh (SAD); P.D. Elangovan (PMK); Sushil Indora (INLD) and S. Thirunavukarasu (MGR-ADMK).

Mr Yerrannaidu later told reporters that Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandopadhayay had informed him on the telephone that he was in agreement with the decision taken by other allies on the issue.

He said the leaders would meet the Finance Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha tomorrow and demand total rollback of the hike.

PTI adds: The JD(U) has talked of the possibility of moving a cut motion on the issue of price hike.

“If the hike is not withdrawn, we will adopt a new strategy both in Parliament and outside,” senior JD(U) leader Devendra Prasad Yadav told reporters after a delegation of all allies of the BJP met Mr Vajpayee.

Yadav, during whose tenure as Union Food Minister a scheme was launched to provide foodgrains at half the PDS price to those below poverty line, told reporters, “There cannot be any compromise on matters of public interest”


Disagreement on RSS discussion
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, March 6 — The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee’s efforts to elicit the support of the BJP allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to support a censure discussion on the vexed RSS issue in Parliament came a cropper today with the allies sticking to their demand that there should be no voting on the discussion.

Mr Vajpayee, who took the initiative in convening a meeting of the NDA partners this morning here at the behest of the Lok Sabha Speaker, Mr G.M.C. Balayogi, failed to get the NDA allies agree to a discussion on the issue under Rule 184, as demanded by the Opposition led by the Congress.

At the meeting, the allies stuck to their view that the matter be taken up through a simple discussion under Rule 193 and not under Rule 184, which amounts to censure of the Treasury benches. A Telegu Desam Party leader, Mr K. Yerrannaidu told newspersons after the meeting that the decision of the NDA was unanimous.

Some of the allies of the BJP, like the Samata Party, the TDP and the Trinamool Congress, who have expressed their opposition to the Gujarat Government’s order allowing its officials to participate in the activities of RSS, expressed their dilemma in either supporting the decision or opposing it, NDA sources said.

The Congress, capitalising on the predicament of the NDA partners, has been unrelenting on its demand for a discussion under Rule 184 on the RSS issue and has prevented the Lok Sabha from functioning for the past one week. Today, the House adjourned after making obituary references to the departed CPI leader and veteran MP, Ms Geeta Mukherjee.

The BJP is in favour of a voting on the discussion as it would give a stamp of recognition for its stand on the RSS that it is a socio-cultural organisation. However, it is understood that the government will not relent to the Opposition demand till it gets a categorical assurance from the NDA partners on their support in case of voting on the matter.

Today’s meeting was attended among others by Union Ministers, Mr L.K. Advani, Mr Jaswant Singh, Mr Pramod Mahajan, Mr Yerrannaidu of the TDP, Mr T.R. Baalu (DMK) and Mr S.S. Dhindsa (Akali Dal).

Meanwhile, another NDA ally, the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) today opposed the Gujarat Government’s order allowing its employees to join the RSS and sought its withdrawal.

PMK founder, Dr S. Ramadoss was quoted by news agencies as saying in Chennai that “there is strong opposition to the decision all over the country. When I meet the Prime Minister, I will certainly tell him about my party’s reservations on this.”

PTI adds: The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Mr M. Karunanidhi, on Monday asked the BJP leadership to prevail on the Gujarat Government to withdraw its controversial order permitting its employees to participate in RSS activities, but said the centre need not give any direction in this regard.

Intervening in the discussion on the Governor’s Address in Tamil Nadu Assembly, he said he agreed with M. Abdul Latheef (Indian National League) that the BJP leadership could use its influence on the Gujarat Government as it was the ruling party there.

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