Friday, May 3, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

LS adjourned as Oppn boycotts George
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 2
The Opposition’s refusal to address questions to Defence Minister George Fernandes forced the Chair to adjourn the Lok Sabha till 2 pm today.

When CPM MP Sunil Kumar declined to ask the question listed against his name to the Defence Minister with an argument that the Opposition did not recognise him as a minister, Deputy Speaker P.M. Sayeed withdrew the question and took up the next one.

Objecting to the ruling of the Deputy Speaker, Treasury Bench MPs got up and insisted that they would address questions to the Defence Minister if the Opposition was not ready to do so.

Mr Sayeed stuck to his ruling and did not allow them to pose questions to Mr Fernandes.

Over this, members of both sides got up and had a heated exchange of words.

BJP MP Ramesh Chand Tomar too declined to put the question listed against his name to the Railways Minister to protest and the House was plunged into chaos.

When his repeated pleas failed to restore order in the House, the Deputy Speaker was forced to adjourn the House.

The Opposition had been boycotting Mr Fernandes during Question Hour for past two sessions after he was reinducted into the Defence Ministry following his resignation over the Tehelka expose.

The Deputy Speaker today read out a precedent before giving his ruling that when the questioner was present in the House and refused to address his listed question to the minister. The question as well the answer were treated as withdrawn. In that case, the House took up the next question, he said.

Members from the Treasury Benches questioned the Deputy Speaker’s ruling and some members were seen waving the statutebook, insisting that there was no such observation to that effect.

Mr Sayeed repeatedly told them that challenging the ruling of the presiding authority in the House was “unfortuate and it should not be done”.

But Janata Dal (U) members Prabhunath Singh, along with several BJP members, were up on their feet and remained adamant on their stand, forcing Mr Sayeed to adjourn the House.

On the same issue, the BJP accused the Congress of crossing all limits by refusing to question Mr Fernandes.

“It is high time the Congress stopped this (refusing to ask questions listed against their names to the Defence Minister). They have crossed all limits. It is against all parliamentary norms,” BJP parliamentary party spokesman V.K. Malhotra said here.

Saying that this action could not take place without the consent of Leader of Opposition Sonia Gandhi, Mr Malhotra said, “The Minister has been appointed by the Prime Minister and the President has administered him the oath. This action by the Congress is condemnable”.



India, EU set Gujarat issue at rest
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 2
India and the European Union (EU) today decided to put the Gujarat issue behind them, virtually setting at rest the controversy that began last week following reports over the EU Chairman issuing a verbal demarche to the Indian Ambassador in Madrid over Gujarat.

At a meeting between a visiting team of EU Troika, comprising senior officials of the member countries, and Foreign Secretary Chokila Iyer here today, the two sides discussed the Gujarat issue “in an open and candid manner”.

A spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs today said the EU recognised that their concerns regarding violence, loss of life and property and the requirement for urgent humanitarian relief had been addressed vigorously and effectively in the Indian media, public opinion and civil society and by the Indian Government and Parliament.

The two sides agreed that the recent controversy caused by media reports on the EU position on Gujarat had been regrettable and decided to put this issue behind them. The meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere. The Indian side was led by the Foreign Secretary and the EU side by the Spanish Foreign Ministry Secretary-General.

This meeting is held biannually. The last meeting was held in July last. The India-EU summit level interaction was institutionalised in June 2000. The spokesperson said such meetings were “extremely useful”. The annual summit was held in October 2002 in Copenhagen.

Terrorism was high on the agenda. The EU had also adopted an action plan to combat terrorism. The India-EU Joint Working Group on Terrorism is slated to meet in Brussels next month.

The EU is India’s largest trading partner, with annual exports worth $ 6.6. billion and imports to the tune of $ 6.4 billion.

Student stabbed in Ahmedabad

Bollywood actress Deepti Naval and former Miss India and social activist Nafisa Ali at a peace march led by Congress President Sonia Gandhi in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi with other Congress leaders at a peace march in Ahmedabad on Wednesday. 
— PTI photos

Ahmedabad, May 2
Indefinite curfew was reimposed in the Viramgam region of the district following violent clashes between rival groups as well as stabbing and arson since yesterday.

The police said a scooter-borne BA third year student was stabbed while he was on his way to a examination centre from Meghaninagar.

The student discovered his injury only after his fellow-students of Nav Gujarat College spotted blood on his clothes. He was rushed to nearby hospital.

Meanwhile, rival groups indulged in arson and clashed following which the authorities cancelled the relaxation of curfew announced in the region for the day.

VADODARA: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday warned people against taking law into their hands and asserted that all those indulging in violence would be dealt with an iron hand.

Addressing a well-attended “Sadbhavna” rally here, Mr Modi said the vested interests and forces trying to whip up communal tension in the state, could not hold the entire state of five crore people to ransom. They would soon be isolated and brought to justice, he said. He criticised Congress President Sonia Gandhi and other Opposition parties for “defaming” the state as well as the Gujarat Government. UNI


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