Thursday, March 15, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Remove George or I go: Mamata

New Delhi, March 14
Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has threatened that her party will quit the NDA if Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee did not accept the resignation of Defence Minister George Fernandes following the expose about shady defence deals by a news portal.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Ms Banerjee said no one should be allowed to go scotfree. “The passing of each hour is causing damage to the image of the government and the country is watching it”, she said.

The Trinamool Congress chief said: “In case suitable action is not taken, the Trinamool Congress will be left with no alternative but to reconsider its support to the NDA government.”

In a five-paged letter, she said no bureaucrat should be allowed to tarnish the honesty and integrity of the Prime Minister. The officers, whose names had been mentioned, “should be asked to go”.

Demanding a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) or a sitting Supreme Court judge or the CBI, she said since the entire issue related to the defence deals, all officials named in the video footage must not continue in office.

“Specific allegations have also been made in the video footage and the transcript against certain highly-placed officials. The whole nation is convinced about the integrity of the Prime Minister. No bureaucrat should be allowed to tarnish that. Officials whose names figure must be asked to go till the investigations are over,” she said.

Her party would help in restoring the damaged image of the government, Ms Banerjee said.

She also asked the Prime Minister to review the controversial Balco deal, saying that she was “shocked and surprised” that the controlling shares of the company had been given to a single private party. PTI


Former Prime Ministers to hold protest rally today

New Delhi, March 14
Former Prime Ministers V.P. Singh and H.D. Deve Gowda, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, along with activists of the Left Parties, will participate in a protest demonstration here tomorrow to demand the resignation of the Vajpayee government in the wake of the defence deal scam.

The CPI spokesman, Mr Shamim Faizi, said here today that similar demonstrations would be organised throughout the country on March 20.

The decision for starting an agitation on the issue, which rocked Parliament yesterday and today, was taken at a meeting at CPM General Secretary H.S. Surjeet’s residence this morning where the two former Prime Ministers, along with CPI General Secretary A.B. Bardhan and RSP leader Abini Roy were also present.

The activists of the Forward Bloc and the CPI (ML) would also participate in the demonstration.

Meanwhile, the Indian Youth Congress activists led by its national president Randeep Singh Surjewala held a demonstration outside the BJP headquarters on Ashoka Road to demand the immediate dismissal of the Vajpayee government in the backdrop of the exposure by of the BJP’s alleged involvement in shady defence deal.

The leaders said the Vajpayee government had no right, moral or otherwise, to continue in office as the sordid drama exposed by clearly demonstrated that the rot had set in, according to a statement issued by the CPM office here.

In a separate statement issued here, CPI (ML) central secretariat member Ranjit Abhigyan said the government which was bent upon disinvesting the profit-making PSUs and mortgaging the nation’s security and dignity had to quit.

The 90-minute meeting at the residence of Mr Surjeet was attended by Marxist Jyoti Basu.

The leaders asked state units of their parties to launch mass struggles across the country, including state capitals, in protest against the Vajpayee government’s “corruption”, CPM Politburo member Sitaram Yechury said.

The meeting was understood to have chalked out a broad strategy for the ensuing Assembly elections in five states.

Mr Yechury said while no representative of the RJD could attend the meeting, party chief Laloo Prasad Yadav endorsed the stand taken at the meeting.

The meeting comes after weeks of parleys between these leaders to cobble up the “third front” to jointly contest the elections. UNI, PTI

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