Monday, January 8, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Patch-up efforts by George fail
Samata MPs not to attend Mysore meeting

NEW DELHI, Jan 7 (UNI) — Patch-up efforts by Defence Minister George Fernandes to end dissidence within the Samata Party failed today and the six rebel MPs decided to stay away from the two-day national council meeting beginning in Mysore tomorrow.

After a two-hour meeting at the Defence Minister’s Krishna Menon road residence this morning, dissident leader Mr Raghunath Jha said no solution had been arrived at after the talks.

Speaking on behalf of the MPs who have split away, he said they would not be attending the meeting at Mysore where a national president for the party would also be elected.

Members of the national council from Bihar were selected by Agriculture Minister Nitish Kumar and this had been rejected by the six MPs.

Even as the meeting was going on, Mr Nitish Kumar, who had on Thursday sent in his resignation from the Union Council of Ministers because of the bickerings in the party, told reporters at the airport that the problems would be sorted out before the Mysore meeting.

Mr Jha said the MPs would be meeting Mr Fernandes once again on January 14. Although the six MPs held a parallel state unit meeting in Patna on Friday, they had reposed full faith in Mr Fernandes.

Mr Jha said there would be no compromise on the issue of electing the state unit president for the party.

During the parallel convention in Patna, Mr Jha had been re-elected state party president by his group which includes MPs Manjay Lal, Arun Kumar, Prabhunath Singh, Mahendra Baitha and Brahmanand Mandal.

At the state council meeting held by Mr Kumar, the Agriculture Minister had selected the national council members from the state but left the choice of state unit president to Mr Fernandes.

The crisis in the party had been precipitated over the issue of the party’s merger with the Janata Dal (United). According to Mr Kumar, the proposal for Samata’s merger with the JD (U) was passed by the national council a year ago and it was decided that modalities for the merger would be worked out after the Assembly elections in Bihar. Till the national council reverses its order, the party leaders were bound by the resolution.

Asked whether the MPs would attend the national council meeting, Mr Kumar said there was no reason why they should not.

However, the split in the Bihar unit would dominate the proceedings at the national council meeting, the sources said, adding that the group led by Mr Jha was adamant not to attend the convention.Back

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