Saturday, March 2, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

PM, Sonia issue joint appeal
VHP sets conditions
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 1
In a positive development, leaders of all political parties, including Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Leader of the Opposition Sonia Gandhi, tonight issued a joint appeal asking the people of Gujarat to maintain peace and communal harmony and isolate perpetrators of violence.

While Mr Vajpayee assured a meeting of leaders of major political parties convened to discuss the situation in Gujarat, the meeting agreed to issue a joint appeal.

Even as the Prime Minister assured the leaders that the Government would firmly and effectively deal with the situation arising out of disturbances in Gujarat, the appeal urged the people to isolate perpetrators of violence and defeat their sinister designs.

The appeal, signed by Mr Vajpayee and Mrs Gandhi along with former Prime MInister I.K.Gujral, Home Minister L.K. Advani, Parliamentary Affairs Minster Pramod Mahajan, BJP President K. Jana Krishnamurthi, Leader of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha Mammohan Singh, CPM General Secretary Harkishan Singh Surjeet, TDP leader Yerran Naidu, Samajwadi Party President Mulyam Singh Yadav, Bahujan Samaj Party Vice President Mayawati and CPI General Secretary A.B. Bardhan, said it was the collective responsibility to “promote brotherhood and national unity at all costs”.

“The Prime Minister assures the people that the Central Government will deal firmly and effectively with the situation in Gujarat and elsewhere in the country”, the appeal said adding that “all of us expect the state government to do the same”.

Meanwhile, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) said here that it could consider postponing its temple construction programme if the Vajpayee Government gave it a written assurance about handing over the undisputed land by a specific date.

“The assurance should come from the Prime Minister or the Home Minister specifying the date by which the government can hand over the undisputed land to us for the construction of the Ram Mandir,” VHP Vice-President Acharya Giriraj Kishore said.



Opposition asks Narayanan to intervene
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 1
President K.R. Narayanan today assured agitated Opposition members of Parliament that he would take up with the Prime Minister their demand for the immediate deployment of the Army in the riot-affected areas of Gujarat.

Briefing newspersons after a 30 minute-meeting, Congress President Sonia Gandhi quoted President Narayanan as having said that he was aware of the intensity of the riots in Gujarat and its possible consequences in other parts of the country.

CPM leader Somnath Chatterjee, who was also in the all-party delegation, said both Central and the state governments had abdicated their responsibility by failing to restore law and order in Gujarat. While the state police was not taking action against the culprits who perpetrated mindless violence, the Centre was dragging its feet on the deployment of the Army.

After forcing adjournment of both Houses of Parliament this morning, the Opposition members marched to Rashtrapati Bhavan seeking Presidential intervention in Gujarat. The Opposition became agitated since both Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Home Minister L.K. Advani were reluctant to deploy the Army in the riot-affected areas though the state police had failed to control the situation.

Tracing the developments that forced the Opposition to stage a march to the President’s house, Mrs Sonia Gandhi said the Prime Minister took several hours before giving an appointment to the Congress delegation late last night.

She said though the delegation had pressed for an immediate deployment of the Army, there was no firm commitment from the government. As there was no sign of abatement of violence in the state, senior Congress leader Manmohan Singh got in touch with Mr Advani later in the night and reiterated the party’s demand for swift action.

Mrs Sonia Gandhi said a wrong impression was being deliberately created that the Congress did not condemn the violence at Godhra where “kar sevaks” were burnt to death. Her party condemned all violence and firmly believed in the rule of law, she said.


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