Thursday, April 18, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

NDA hardens stand on Modi issue
LS Deputy Speaker calls all-party meeting
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 17
Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker P.M. Sayeed has convened a meeting of the leaders of political parties tomorrow to break the impasse between the Treasury and Opposition Benches over the Gujarat issue.

“We have already lost three days without transacting virtually any business. I am hopeful that some solution will emerge at the meeting,” Mr Sayeed told a group of mediapersons.

Since the Budget Session met after a three-week recess on April 15, Opposition parties had forced adjournments of both Houses of Parliament till today, demanding Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s removal from the post and either an adjournment motion or a discussion under Rule 184, which entails voting, on the developments in the state. The ruling alliance, however, is in the favour of a discussion under Rule 193 which does not lead to voting.

Mr Sayeed said the situation could not be allowed to continue as a lot of important business was still pending.

“Of the 23 days’ sitting, we have already lost three days, I hope the party leaders will understand and agree to some solution,” he said.

Meanwhile, the National Democratic Alliance has hardened its stand on the issue, with floor leaders of its partner parties today deciding to unanimously oppose the demand of the Opposition to have a debate in Parliament on the Gujarat situation which entails voting.

Talking to newspersons, BJP Parliamentary Party spokesperson Vijay Kumar Malhotra said a decision in this regard was taken at a meeting of the NDA partners. The leaders also decided to meet every morning from tomorrow to finalise a strategy to face the Opposition in Parliament, he said.

Mr Malhotra said the meeting, attended by all NDA partners, except the Trinamool Congress and Rashtriya Jan Shakti of Union Coal Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, criticised the behaviour of the Opposition parties, including the Congress, in Parliament over the issue and stalling of proceedings in both Houses.

The spokesman said it was decided that the demand for an adjournment motion and a debate under Rule 184, which entails voting, was “untenable” and, hence, be opposed jointly. The meeting felt that if a debate of state matters like Gujarat was allowed in Parliament, it would set a wrong precedent, he said.

Mr Malhotra charged the Opposition, particularly the Congress, with “wasting time” of Parliament and not allowing important business like the debates on the demands of the Home Ministry and External Affairs.

He also criticised Congress President Sonia Gandhi for her fast at Rajghat yesterday to press for her party’s demand for the ouster of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Mr Malhotra said the Congress never protested against the repression of Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu and Kashmir.


Shanta Kumar forced to apologise
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 17
Union Minister for Food and Consumer Affairs Shanta Kumar became the first victim of the Hindutva hardline stance adopted by the BJP at Panjim last week as he was forced to tender a written apology to the party High Command for his views on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Mr Kumar’s letter was publicised by the BJP today in the form of a press note which said that the minister “has sent a letter to party President K. Jana Krishnamurthi apologising on his outburst in the channel Aaj Tak”.

“He has made a very emotional statement publicly which he should not have done”, the note signed by BJP general secretary Maya Singh said.

“I am really very sorry. I had no intention of acting in such indisciplinary way. I am a devoted and disciplined worker from my childhood since last fifty years. I regret for such public statement made by me”, Mr Kumar wrote in his letter to the BJP President.

The BJP at its three-day National Executive meeting, held in Goa’s capital Panjim from April 12, had decided to deal with dissenting voices in the party with a heavy hand and Mr Kumar was the most suitable candidate for sending a stern message to the party’s rank and file that the party would seriously tackle indiscipline.

Mr Kumar has been on the hit list for a long time as he was sidelined in the party by none other than Mr Narendra Modi, who as general secretary in charge of Himachal had preferred Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal over him.

The message is loud and clear to all those who interact with media that they have no option but to sing the song of the party and its well entrenched leaders, a party leader pointed out.

Sources said that it was Mr Modi, who had drawn the party high command attention to Mr Kumar’s statement and his views expressed on a TV channel offered the party evidence to proceed against him.

The former Himachal Chief Minister chose to buy his peace by tendering an unqualified apology.

Efforts to contact Mr Kumar failed as his office told the Tribune that the minister was at home while the residence staff said that he was in office.

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