M A I N   N E W S

Uproar in both Houses
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 25
Pandemonium prevailed in both Houses of Parliament today over the issues of attack on Union Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav and the framing of charges against him in a fodder scam case in Jharkhand.

Opposition and Treasury Benches traded charges against Laloo for being charged by the High Court in a fodder scam case relating to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37 crore from Chaibasa treasury in 1996 and the dismissal of Gujarat Government for its failure to provide security to a Union Minister when he visited the victims of a rail accident.

Amidst the din in the Rajya Sabha, the statement of Railway Minister was placed on the table of the House, which accused the Gujarat Government of not ensuring adequate security arrangements in Vadodara as members of the Bajrang Dal, the RSS and the VHP attacked his vehicle, smashing its windscreen and preventing him from reaching a hospital to visit the victims of the April 21 Sabaramati train accident.

In his suo motu statement, read out in the Rajya Sabha by Minister of State for Railways Naranbhai J. Rathwa, Laloo said RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal members shouted slogans, hurled abuses, attacked his vehicle and tried to hurt him physically while he was on his way to the Sayaji Hospital in Vadodara to visit accident victims.

“They threw water bottles and ice pieces at me. Chairman, Railway Board, and and other officers of the board were also pelted with stones,” he said.

BJP members then waived the statement saying it was incorrect and some even tore it in the well of the House.

Sensing the mood, Shekhawat adjourned the House for the day, eight minutes after it met after the third adjournment at 4 pm.

In the Lok Sabha, acrimonious exchanges were witnessed between the RJD and the BJP-led NDA forcing the House to be adjourned in the pre-lunch session.

While Opposition members shouted “sack Laloo” slogans, RJD members vociferously countered with “Dismiss the Modi Government” slogans.

“The behaviour in the street is better than what is happening here,” an anguished Speaker Somnath Chatterjee remarked after repeated attempts by him to restore order failed.

Seeing agitated members from both sides move to front rows, the Speaker warned: “Any member coming to the well will face the consequences. It applies to all. I am giving the notice.”



Laloo issue worries UPA
T R Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 25
Despite the UPA government rejecting the Opposition's demand for the dismissal of Union Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav, its partners on the Raisina Hill are worried about the inherent perils of coalition politics and its contours with charges being framed against Mr Yadav and several others in a special CBI court in Ranchi today pertaining to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37 crore from the Chaibasa treasury in 1996.

Union Law Minister H R Bhardwaj contened that only charges have been framed against the Railway Minister and that Mr Yadav has not been convicted. "There is, therefore, no justification for his dismissal," Mr Bhardwaj insisted.

Mr Bhardwaj said rather labouredly that "when somebody becomes an MP, he is qualified to become

a minister who can be disqualified only when he incurs some disqualification." He pointed out that charges had already been framed against Mr Yadav in a Patna court which is still being heard. "Disqualification takes effect post conviction."

At the same there is an element of unease in the highest echelons of the Manmohan Singh government as this is not the first case where charges have been framed against Mr Prasad. Therefore, the ruling coalition has to necessary undertake a delicate balancing act rather than precipitating matters.

Several senior ministers acknowledged in as many words that the heat against the government can become stifling in a worst case scenario as the probable exit of Mr Yadav from the NDA was frought with serious repercussions which had the portends of shaking the very foundations of the UPA. Mr Yadav's RJD has an enviable block of 24 seats in the Lok Sabha which is the second largest entity after the Congress. That is how in the critical numbers game, he secured for himself the much wanted railways portfolio ahead of LJP supremo Ram Vilas Paswan who had to remain content with chemicals and fertilisers.

An RJD out of the government at the Centre can be like a wounded tiger on the prowl and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is keeping a close tabs on the developments. Mr Yadav already feels highly slighted that he was unable to swing a deal in his favour in his home state of Bihar necessitating the imposition of President's rule. With Mr Paswan holding the whiphand on government formation in Patna minus the RJD and the BJP, he is waiting with crossed fingers for the JD (U) to severe its ties with the saffron brigade. He is also having problems in keeping his flock together.

The NDA threw the two Houses of Parliament in turmoil during the day demanding that either Mr Prasad resign or Dr Singh should send him packing from the government.


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