Wednesday, March 27, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Vajpayee lashes out at Sonia

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee arrives at Parliament
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee arrives at Parliament to attend a joint session on the POTO Bill in New Delhi on Tuesday. 
— PTI photo 

New Delhi, March 26
A livid Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, launched an unprecedented verbal assault on Leader of Opposition Sonia Gandhi at the joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament today and categorically refuted her allegation that that he had ever worked under pressure.

Mr Vajpayee picked on Ms Gandhi as well as the Congress during his unusually angry intervention in the debate on the Prevention of Terrorism Bill-2002 at the joint sitting of Parliament in which he sought to take the war right into the Congress camp.

In his intervention, punctuated by scenes of chaos, melee and acrimonious arguments by members, the Prime Minister took pains to rebut Ms Gandhi’s allegations of his working pressure by saying that he never succumbed to any pressures — either from the Sangh Parivar or from foreign powers.

Without mentioning the Congress government of the then Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, Mr Vajpayee said his government had gone ahead with the Pokhran-II nuclear tests in May 1998 despite foreign pressures, whereas years ago the government of the day — an obvious reference to Mr Rao’s government — had wilted under foreign pressure when India had planned similar nuke tests at that time.

The Prime Minister was specific when he narrated how the USA pressured him during the Kargil war, though by a slip of tongue, he referred to the then US President Bill Clinton as “President Lincoln”. Starting his intervention by saying, “I did not intend taking part in the debate,” Mr Vajpayee said he had been compelled to do so following some uncharitable remarks against him by none other than Congress President and Leader of Opposition Sonia Gandhi.

“I am Prime Minister not because of the Congress blessings but in spite of opposition from the Congress,” he declared. “Sonia Gandhi has raised questions about my primary duty as Prime Minister and inquired whether I would succumb to pressure from the Parivar. This is the matter of our Parivar. So don’t meddle in it. If I work under pressure then why are my own party and our allies supporting me?

Because they know that I do not work under pressure. It is an allegation on me that I work under pressure. It is wrong. I don’t work under pressure... We conducted nuclear tests despite pressure from the world but we did not come under pressure.”Back


POTO need of the hour, says Advani
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 26
Home Minister L.K. Advani today said that the country could not secure a decisive victory against terrorism unless special laws like POTO were brought into force. Introducing the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance 2002 at the joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament amid pandemonium, he said the security of the nation should be given high priority by the members.

The Home Minister’s remarks that most of the Chief Ministers had told him that they favoured POTO but their respective parties had decided against the legislation evoked sharp protests from the Opposition members.

Mr Advani, pointing out that he was fully aware of his responsibilities as Union Minister, said he had not named any particular Chief Minister, otherwise he would have withdrawn his remarks.

Union Minister and Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi and TDP member K Yerran Naidu supported the Bill and said it would go a long way in fighting terrorism in the country.

Law Minister Arun Jaitley, who was interrupted several times in an hour-long speech, targeted the Congress mainly, saying that its governments in Maharashtra and Karnataka had much more stringent laws than POTO to tackle organised crime, but the same party was opposing a law aimed at fighting terrorism in the country.Back


Panja receives threats

New Delhi, March 26
Former union minister Ajit Kumar Panja today complained to the police that he had received threats this morning that he would be killed if he supported the government on the Prevention of Terrorism Bill during the joint session of Parliament.

The police confirmed having received the complaint and said it was probing the facts.

“We got a complaint this afternoon from Mr Panja that he received death threats in the morning and we are ascertaining the correctness of the facts,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Mukesh Kumar Meena said. The police officer said no FIR, however, had yet been registered in the matter. UNIBack

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