Tuesday, March 20, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Cong announces nationwide stir
No plan to move trust motion
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 19
The Congress today announced a countrywide multi-phase action plan to pressurise the Vajpayee government to resign over the expose of alleged corruption in defence deals.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi had said in the Bangalore AICC meet yesterday that the party would go to the people over the acts of omission and commission of the Vajpayee government and the action plan would be announced in Delhi tomorrow.

Congress spokesman S. Jaipal Reddy said as part of the action plan an awareness campaign would be launched and protest rallies would be organised in every district headquarters of the country during the Parliament recess from March 24 to April 10.

He said the second phase of agitation would be announced later.

Asked how long the agitation would continue, the Congress spokesman said: “It all depends on Atal Behari Vajpayee.”

Rallies would also be organised in municipal towns and block headquarters and these would be addressed by national leaders, he said.

To a question whether the party was considering moving a no-trust motion in the Lok Sabha against the Vajpayee Government, Mr Reddy said a non-trust motion by the Opposition or a confidence vote by Mr Vajpayee were equally meaningless.

Asked to comment on the observation made by Supreme Court Chief Justice that he was unable to spare a sitting Judge to probe the Tehelka expose, Mr Reddy said he would not like to react as he did not know the authenticity.

The Congress had already rejected the offer of a judicial probe into the Tehelka expose.

Maintaining that the Congress was “enormously exercised” over the implications of the revelations by the Tehelka tapes, the party would not obstruct the passage of Vote-on-Account in Parliament. “We would like to avoid any constitutional impasse,” he remarked.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Kapil Sibal today charged Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee with “sabotaging” the judicial probe into the Tehelka expose of corruption in defence deals by giving a clean chit to those named by the news portal even before the inquiry started.


BJP lambasts Sonia Gandhi
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 19
In a counter attack on Congress President Sonia Gandhi, the BJP today asked the government to get the charges levelled against her by Dr Subramaniam Swamy probed by the inquiry committee investigating into the Tehelka expose.

Even as the BJP leadership decided to take the battle into the people’s court by not only preponing its National Executive committee meet to March 24-25 in Delhi instead of Kolkata where it was scheduled to be held earlier on March 30-31, but also by holding country-wide rallies, including a massive rally in the Capital, on March 25. Top party leaders have also started calling Mrs Gandhi “that girl of foreign origin”.

“India has to decide whether it wants Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee or a girl of foreign origin”, party Vice-President Kailashpati Mishra said talking to a group of reporters.

The BJP leaders have taken strong exception to Mrs Gandhi calling Mr Vajpayee a “traitor” in her speech at the AICC session in Bangalore which concluded yesterday.

Dr Swamy had alleged in a letter to the government that Mrs Gandhi had received money from the former Soviet secret service KGB, Mr V.K. Malhotra, BJP’s parliamentary party spokesman said.

Mr Malhotra said, “She has crossed all limits of decency. She said “no forgiveness and no mercy”. Has she become a self-appointed God, and as if somebody is waiting for her forgiveness and mercy”.

Lashing out at the Congress President, Mr Malhotra said: “She has shown that she has no respect for the Parliamentary system and nor is she interested in an inquiry. We are prepared for a debate in the House, a vote of confidence. But the Congress just doesn’t seem to be interested in any of these procedures of the Parliamentary system”, Mr Malhotra said.

Referring to Mrs Gandhi’s description of Mr Vajpayee as “traitor”, the spokesman said that as a matter of fact the Congress was a “traitor as it was stalling the country’s development by stalling all parliamentary work”.

The Congress, he said, was stalling legislative business even in different states and its goons were attacking the BJP offices all over the country.

“Does she want a civil war in the country and get the government embroiled in a fight?” Mr Malhotra asked.

The rally in Delhi, to be held on Ramlila grounds on March 25, would be addressed by not only the Prime Minister, but also by the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, and a former Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, the spokesman said.

UNI adds: BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu on Monday said the government would be forced to bring forward a vote-on-account in case the Opposition continued with its belligerent attitude and did not permit the Budget to be passed.

Talking to newspersons, Mr Naidu said only four days were left before Parliament adjourns for the break and financial business for the year 2001-02 had to be completed before March 31.


Oppn to continue protest in Houses

New Delhi, March 19
Non-Congress opposition parties today decided to continue their protest in Parliament and demand the resignation of the Vajpayee government over the Tehelka expose on corruption in defence deals.

At a meeting of all Opposition parties barring the Congress, it was decided to continue the strategy of stalling proceedings in both Houses of Parliament, which was adjourned for the fifth consecutive day today, Left party sources said. PTI

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