M A I N   N E W S

Angry Speaker offers to quit
Rajeev Sharma and Gaurav Choudhury
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 16
A new political tug of war seems to be on the cards as Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee today took the unprecedented step of offering to resign over the Opposition’s allegations of “tanashahi” (dictatorship) against him.

Political sources said the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) leaders were unimpressed by the “resignation drama”. After the winter session ends on December 23, the NDA would be meeting to deliberate on its strategy “to deal with the Speaker”.

It is understood that the Opposition still has a plethora of complaints against the Speaker and it may well decide to give its complaints in the form of a letter to the Speaker himself.

Mr Chatterjee today surprised everybody with his resignation of for in the context of what happened in the House yesterday with the Opposition disrupting the proceedings.

The Speaker said: “I have been accused of indulging in Tanashahi. The Chair does not have any prestige any longer and has become totally irrelevant and it has become a matter of agony for me to occupy this Chair, which I never expected to do, far less solicited.

“So long as I am here I shall try my best to discharge my duties and functions according to the rules procedure and my conscience. If members are not happy with the present incumbent I shall have no regrets in leaving it. I was happy facing the Chair than occupying it.”

Mr Chatterjee said it was at the request of former Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, that he had to reluctantly adjourn the House yesterday soon after the Luncheon recess. “Since my assumption of this office, I have tried humbly to the best of my ability to discharge my onerous duties. I have been earnestly requesting all the Hon’ble leaders and parties for their help and cooperation for running the House and also seeking guidance from them. I am thankful to all for giving me assurance of their help and cooperation. But in spite of that the House could not function yesterday after the question hour.”

The Speaker ended his brief statement with a satirical teasing of the noise-making members. He said yesterday some 40 students of a Pune college met him and told him that they witnessed the proceedings from the visitors’ gallery yesterday.

“They asked me that if the Parliament did not function what was the future of parliamentary democracy in this country. I leave that question before all the Hon’ble members to ponder and find out the answer, and let the country know”.

Meanwhile, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee continued to bowl googlies at Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav today also and demanded the Railway Minister’s resignation for misleading Parliament.

Mr Vajpayee, while talking to reporters in Parliament House, said for Mr Yadav his forthcoming rally in Patna was more important than remaining present in the House for a statement on a sensitive issue like a train accident.

BJP’s Deputy Leader in the House, Mr Vijay Kumar Malhotra, described Mr Yadav’s absence yesterday from the House as “an insult to the House”. He also remarked that 38 people were killed in the train accident and Mr Yadav did not spend as many minutes at the accident site and rather chose to go to Bihar ignoring the House.

Members of the Opposition were also agitated over certain words used by Mr Yadav against Mr Vajpayee. They have demanded expunging of these remarks and the Speaker has promised to look into.


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