Wednesday, March 21, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

PM takes on Congress
Our hands are clean, tells party MPs
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 20
In a counter offensive, the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, today lashed out at the Congress for blocking parliamentary proceedings for five days saying “those raising the bogey of corruption to come to power will not be allowed to succeed”.

Urging the party MPs to go back to their respective constituencies with confidence and enthusiasm as the NDA government’s hands were clean, the Prime Minister said: “The Opposition will not succeed in its attempts to defame us and that we do not need a certificate of patriotism from anyone. By stalling parliamentary proceedings as a method to change the government, as the world’s largest democracy, what message is being conveyed by the Opposition”.

Addressing the Parliamentary Party meeting, Mr Vajpayee asserted that his government had not done any wrong in the defence deals and made it clear that if there was any lapse, the guilty would not be spared irrespective of his stature or position.

The Prime Minister rejected the Opposition’s demand to quit on moral grounds asserting the NDA government enjoyed a majority in the Lok Sabha. He said : “Our alliance is strong and efforts to divide us have proved futile. Therefore, they have come onto the streets despite our willingness to face a debate, inquiry or a vote of confidence”, the BJP spokesman, Prof Vijay Kumar Malhotra said.

Mr Vajpayee targeted the Congress particularly saying the party had “never allowed any non-Congress government, including those supported by it to remain in office for a full term. It is out to prove that it alone can run a government for five years”.

The Prime Minister said the NDA government was determined to fight corruption. It was the different Congress regimes that had “commercialised” the defence deals. People are the ultimate masters and they will give their verdict when the parties go before them after completing the term”, Prof Malhotra said.

The Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, who also addressed the meeting, said no deal had taken place and the Opposition was wanting the government to quit on “illusory” grounds.

There had been no transaction or purchase and still Defence Minister George Fernandes, Samata Party President Jaya Jaitley and BJP President Bangaru Laxman had resigned, Mr Advani said. Even though Mr Advani did not contest that there was no corruption involved, he said what was important was how the government reacted to developments.

To strengthen his arguments, Mr Advani cited the way the former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had handled the allegations levelled against the then Petroleum Minister K.D. Malaviya. The Prime Minister had initiated an inquiry by a judge in his “personal capacity” and Mr Malaviya had to quit after the informal inquiry found the allegations or receiving funds as true.


Sonia seeks time on DD
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 20
Congress President Sonia Gandhi today asked the government to give her party time on Doordarshan.

Drawing parallel with the way former Defence Minister George Fernandes was allowed to address the nation from Doordarshan, Mrs Gandhi in a letter to Mr Vajpayee said representative of the main Opposition party should be given a slot of equivalent quality and range.

The PMO today clarified that Mr George Fernandes was holding the Defence portfolio when he made a statement on Doordarshan last week.

“Even the press conference of the PMO officials was not televised as stated by the Leader of the Opposition,” the sources said.

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