Wednesday, March 20, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Let’s talk, PM tells allies
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 19
In an indirect message to the allies, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today said all contentious issues among the coalition partners of the NDA needed to be sorted out through discussion.

“Coalition is an effort towards resolving all issues through discussion,” the Prime Minister told a BJP Parliamentary Party meeting this morning.

In an obvious balancing act, Mr Vajpayee chose to address the existing friction and disharmony within the alliance on issues like Ayodhya, especially the Attorney-General’s stand in the Supreme Court, storming of the Orissa Assembly by VHP men and the POTO legislation.

MPs greeted the Prime Minister on the completion of four years in office ever since he assumed charge in March, 1998. The Prime Minister thanked them for their greetings.

Talking to newspersons after the meeting, BJP Parliamentary Party spokesman Vijay Kumar Malhotra said Home Minister L.K. Advani congratulated Mr Vajpayee on his feat. The minister said he had faced and overcome numerous challenges, the spokesman said.

The Home Minister said in the four years in office the Vajpayee government had carried out the Pokharan test in 1998, faced the Kargil conflict in 1999 and had succeeded in making the international community aware of the dangers of terrorism.

Mr Advani said the government had also overcome a challenge in Ayodhya.

Mr Malhotra said a meeting between Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha and the MPs would take place on the passage of the Finance Bill as they felt that the middle class had been hit by the reduction in the tax rebate from 20 per cent to 10 per cent.

He said the anti-terrorism Bill replacing POTO was likely to be brought before the Rajya Sabha tomorrow. If the Upper House did not approve it, a joint session of Parliament was likely to be convened this week as six months would lapse if it did not get parliamentary approval this month. The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha last night with a key ally, the Trinamool Congress, staying away from the House. Some party MPs expressed concern over the “steep” hike in postal rates saying that it had affected the poor as well as the middle class.

The Budget had doubled the cost of post cards to 50 paise and raised the prices of other postal services , they pointed out.

Minister for Communications Pramod Mahajan assured the members that he would look into it and take appropriate steps.

The burden put on the middle class by the Union Budget was also raised by some party MPs.Back

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