Friday, December 8, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Turmoil in Houses over PM’s remark
Ayodhya issue rocks Parliament again

Tribune News Service and Agencies

NEW DELHI, Dec 7 — Agitated over Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s remark on temple construction in Ayodhya, the combined opposition today stalled the business of Parliament forcing the respective chairs to adjourn the two Houses for the day.

Loudly protesting against the Prime Minister’s comment on temple construction in Ayodhya, an angry Opposition in the Lok Sabha stormed into the well of the House demanding an unconditional apology from Mr Vajpayee, forcing abrupt adjournment of the House for the day.

Minutes before the Lok Sabha was summoned to order by the Speaker, Mr G.M. C. Balayogi, angry members from the Congress, Left parties, the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the RJD and the Muslim League took to the well and took vantage positions.

The presence of Telugu Desam members, an ally of the ruling NDA, in the well, was a little surprising but they were there to highlight the plight of farmers in Andhra Pradesh.

Mr Balayogi’s attempts to restore order failed to pacify the members who shouted slogans demanding that Mr Vajpayee should come to the House and apologise.

The Prime Minister had yesterday told reporters that the construction of the temple in Ayodhya was an expression of national sentiment which was yet to be realised.

In the same interaction with reporters, Mr Vajpayee had also categorically rejected the demand for resignation of three ministers, Mr L.K. Advani, Dr M.M. Joshi and Ms Uma Bharati, saying that they were in Ayodhya to protect the mosque and not for its demolition.

The sloganeering went on for a couple of minutes as the Opposition seemed in no mood to relent forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House for the day without transacting any business.

The Rajya Sabha was also adjourned without transacting any business within a minute of its assembling with angered opposition members shouting “shame shame” just as the Prime Minister arrived in the House.

Demanding an apology from Mr Vajpayee for his remarks on Ayodhya yesterday, the opposition members did not allow the Chairman, Mr Krishan Kant, even to take his Chair when the House met as they continued their protestations.

On his arrival, the Prime Minister greeted the Opposition with ‘namaste’ even as they started shout shouting “shame shame”. The BJP members countered the slogans by shouting “Prime Minister zindabad”.

The BJP MPs asked the Opposition to maintain decorum in the House and not talk about the Prime Minister in this fashion. “Aap maryada rakhein jab PM aayen hain”, (please maintain decorum as the Prime Minister is here), the BJP member, Mr A.D. Dave, pointed out.

The House also adjourned yesterday and the day before on the issue without transacting any legislative business.

Meanwhile, certain TDP members rushed to the well demanding measures to improve the plight of farmers in the country.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today said he would not deviate from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) agenda on the Ayodhya issue which was not in the NDA’s common agenda, TDP leader Yerran Naidu has informed.

This was stated by the Prime Minister during his meeting with Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee and Telugu Desam Party leader Yerran Naidu here. Both Ms Banerjee and Mr Naidu met the Prime Minister to express concern over his statement yesterday that Ram Janambhoomi was an ‘unfinished task’.

After the meeting, Mr Naidu told newspersons that the statement of the Prime Minister was “unwarranted at a crucial juncture”, especially when the running of the government involved other NDA partners. The NDA did not have contentious issues like Ram janambhoomi on its agenda. Such statements coming from Mr Vajpayee would create confusion, he said.

Mr Naidu said Mr Vajpayee gave a patient hearing to what he and Ms Banerjee had to say.

Mr Vajpayee had assured the leaders that he would not deviate from the NDA agenda, he said.

Asked if he was satisfied with the meeting, Mr Naidu said it was not a matter of satisfaction. The NDA constituents had expressed their feelings to the Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, TDP sources said Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu had endorsed the stand taken by the TDP Parliamentary Party, which had stated that Mr Vajpayee’s statement on the Ayodhya issue would not only create complications but unnecessary confusion among the NDA allies.

Meanwhile, the Akali Dal (Amritsar) has said the Prime Minister’s stout defence of the construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya “has exposed that the BJP is dead set on pursuing the Sangh Parivar’s agenda with complete disregard for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners”.

The Prime Minister’s statement had sounded an alert for minorities that the BJP was out to demolish the “pluralist character of Indian society for establishing a monolithic state, exploiting majority sentiments,” he added.

It also posed a challenge to the democratic and civil rights forces who claimed to be fighting against fascist and fundamentalist elements, the Akali leader said.

Mr Mann drew a parallel between demolition of Babri Masjid and sending of armed forces into the Golden Temple complex that resulted in destruction of Akal Takht. “If the BJP defends the Ayodhya events of December 6, 1992, the Congress is also unrepentant till today for the Army action at the holiest place of worship for the Sikhs,” he said.

Four MPs of the National Conference (NC), a partner in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, also attacked the Prime Minister for his “unexpected” and “unwarranted” statement on the Ayodhya issue and asked him to explain his position “clearly”.

Rajya Sabha members Shariefuddin Shariq and Mirza Abdul Rashid and Lok Sabha members Abdul Rashid Shahen and Hussain Khan said today the Prime Minister’s “unfortunate” statement was “against the common agenda of the NDA government”.

The BJP today hit out at the Opposition for forcing adjournment of both the Houses on the Ayodhya issue and said such “behaviour” could be taken up as a privilege issue.

“The behaviour of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha was something which had not been witnessed in the past five decades of Parliament.


It may be curtains for session?
From T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Dec 7 — Inexorably caught in the Sangh Parivar’s vigorous pursuit of Hindutva, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee finds himself delicately perched in the eyes of some of the NDA partners along with providing the necessary grist to the Opposition mill.

Mr Vajpayee’s observation yesterday that construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya is an unfinished agenda in keeping with national sentiments has spurred the Congress and other opposition parties and groups in Parliament to put the Union Government in the dock.

Cutting across party lines, parliamentarians of all hues and shades are of the view that the curtain has rung down on the winter session of Parliament a good 10 working days before the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha adjourn sine die.

“Only a purposeful and rancourless discussion under the aegis of Lok Sabha Speaker G.M.C. Balayogi in the interest of the country and the people at large can end the impasse,” these MPs observed.

“The chances of this appear remote as of now with the Prime Minister failing to shake off the intense pressure from the RSS and other front organisations of the BJP. They have kept up an unending chant that construction of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution according special status to Jammu and Kashmir and having a uniform civil code should occupy centre-stage once again,” the MPs, especially from the Congress, contended while those belonging to other parties, including the BJP, appeared resigned to another bout of uncertainty.

Aides of the Prime Minister admitted that a fresh problem had arisen but added quickly that “it is not an insurmountable one.”

Despite the Prime Minister’s fire-fighting exercise with the media at two Iftar get-together’s this evening, Mr Vajpayee’s out-of-the-blue comment on the construction of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya did bring to the fore the unease in the Prime Minister’s Office. At the same time the PMO braced up to Mr Vajpayee soothing ruffled feathers by dispelling fears that BJP had its own hidden agenda.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party which is extending support to the Vajpayee government from outside is highly circumspect that the BJP might display its true colours despite the lofty assurances of remaining within the parameters of the National Agenda of Governance evolved by more than a score of disparate constituents of the NDA.

Mr Naidu, in his capacity as the chief of the TDP, has virtually kept the Vajpayee government afloat as his party has the single largest compliment of 29 MPs in the Lok Sabha after the BJP. This number includes the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.

TDP Parliamentary Party leader Yerran Naidu is categorical that Mr Vajpayee has needlessly whipped up a controversy.” The TDP has been successful in securing its pond of flesh as a quid pro quo for supporting the Vajpayee’s government from outside. For all outward appearances, the TDP will need a lot of convincing that the BJP is not returning to its Hindutva agenda.

Under Mr Naidu’s stewardship the TDP has always considered the Congress and the BJP as its main enemies. Despite this and for reasons of political expedience, the TDP struck a pre-poll alliance with the BJP and retained power in Andhra Pradesh. Mr Vajpayee played a key role in having a truck with the TDP on Mr Naidu’s terms despite stout opposition to such an arrangement from the Andhra Pradesh unit of the BJP

Considering his own political predilections, Mr Naidu kept the BJP out of his government in Andhra Pradesh and refrained from joining the NDA government at the Centre. Such a gambit puts Mr Naidu in a win, win situation.

The RSS and other members of the Sangh Parivar have been strident in attacking the policies of the BJP which is in the vanguard of the NDA. Over the last few months these organisations have not taken kindly to Mr Vajpayee burrowing a different path for putting the Hindutva plank on the backburner.

Worried at being cut off from the mainstream within his own party, Mr Vajpayee has undertaken a delicate balancing act to put matters on an even keel vis-ŕ-vis the RSS, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal by alluding to the construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.

This set off alarm bells among the constituents of the NDA though they do not doubt the secular credentials of Mr Vajpayee. At the same time they want a face-to-face with the Prime Minister to set all their misgivings at rest.

Meanwhile, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann of the Akali Dal (Amritsar) said the justification of the demolition of the Babri Masjid structure posed a serious threat to the existence of the places of worship of the minorities. He warned that the Prime Minister’s statement sounded and alert for the minorities as the BJP was out to destroy the pluralistic character of Indian society and establish a monolithic state by exploiting the majority sentiments.”

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