M A I N   N E W S

President’s rule imposed on Bihar
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 7
After exhausting all avenues and failing to bring round Union Minister and Lok Janshakti leader Ram Vilas Paswan, Bihar was brought under President’s rule tonight and the assembly kept in suspended animation.

The Union Cabinet with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the chair recommended to the President that Central rule be imposed in Bihar as proposed by Governor Buta Singh. Prior to that intense discussions were held during the day with RJD chief and Union Railway Minister as well as LJP leader and Union Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan about the gridlock in the formation of a secular government in Patna.

Mr Prasad boycotted the Cabinet meeting on the ground that the RJD was opposed to President’s rule in Bihar thus adding a new dimension to the political impasse in the backward state. This rings down the curtain on RJD’s grip in Bihar for the last 15 years even as RJD raises the tempo of seeing the back of Mr Paswan from the UPA.

Mr Paswan was also conspicuous by his absence at the meeting of the Cabinet. During his breezy stay in the capital he held discussions with Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Both Mr Paswan and Prasad returned to Patna this evening to indulge in fresh permutation and combination in the formation of a secular government. The LJP leader’s proposition immediately on his arrival in Patna that the JD (U) take the lead after breaking free from the NDA by severing its ties with the BJP raised hopes of a new political alignments taking place.

In a related development, Dr Singh categorically told BJP president and former Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani that the UPA regime or the Congress had no role to play in Jharkhand where Governor Syed Sibtey Razi had invited UPA’s Shibhu Soren ahead of the NDA to form the government.

However, the Centre wasted no time in intervening in the matter advising President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to summon the Jharkhand Governor for consultations. This is the first time that the First Citizen had discussions with a Governor about the Constitutional head’s powers under Article 164 of the Constitution to appoint a Chief Minister and Council of Ministers. Consequently, the Jharkhand Governor reduced the three-week time span for Mr Soren seeking a vote of confidence and convened the freshly constituted assembly to meet from March 10.

The Prime Minister’s assertion came in the wake of Mr Advani underling the need for accountability in the manner in which Mr Razi had acted in violation of the provisions of the Constitution.

Simultaneosly, Mr Advani impressed upon Dr Singh during their meeting today to appoint “clean and upright” officers as advisers to the Bihar governor so that the administration did not slip into further morass.

On its part, the Congress leadership is trying to convince Mr Prasad of the benefits of more time in tackling the problem of government formation while having President’s rule in Bihar in the interregnum. Its impact appears to have been negligible.

A senior Congress leader explained that “Mr Prasad has to accept the inevitability of Central rule in Bihar. He will not be able to rummage the numbers in a short time but the task is not impossible or insurmountable in a few months time...” the leader noted with a wry smile.

Even as the entire blame for foisting President’s rule on Bihar was being laid at Mr Paswan’s door, Mr Yadav insisted that nobdoy came forward to stake claim for forming the government except the RJD and its allies. “Nobody had the guts to do so.”

He described as an “inconceivable scenario” attempts by Mr Paswan and the Opposition to snuff out the RJD from Bihar following the fractured verdict and the LJP leader holding the trump card with 29 newly elected members in the assembly.

At the same time the maverick RJD leader was quick to point out that the RJD had not demanded Mr Paswan be dropped from Dr Singh’s cabinet and the LJP sent packing from the UPA fold. He did not visualise any threat to the UPA’s stability at the Centre. Nevertheless, his suggestion that it might be better for Mr Paswan to go back to the NDA did not lose its import.

Mr Prasad’s double talk has taken many in the Congress by surprise. On the one hand he is talking of holding fresh elections in Bihar while quickly observing in another breath that “a secular formation with the RJD in the vanguard will be in place in Patna at an early date.”

CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechuri maintained that there can only be a secular government in Bihar. As desired by Mr Paswan President’s rule has been imposed in the state. Replying to a question, he said it is not for him to answer if Mr Paswan should remain in the UPA or not as “we are only supporting the Manmohan Singh government from outside and are not part of the UPA.”

The Congress went on the defensive about Mr Paswan continuing in the UPA or otherwise. Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said it is for the UPA Coordination Committee to discuss and decide this matter. Justifying Mr Buta Singh’s recommendation to clamp President’s rule in Bihar, Mr Sharma acknowledged that proper coordination was lacking between the Congress and its allies.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |