M A I N   N E W S

Vajpayee leads campaign against Speaker
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 8
In yet another attack on the constitutional positions, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today gave voice to a long-simmering discontentment against Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee in the BJP-led Opposition alliance, saying that: "All sections of the NDA feel deeply disappointed at the manner in which the House is being presently run".

In a short and terse reply to Mr Chatterjee's letter of request for reconsideration of the NDA's decision of boycott of the Lok Sabha proceedings, Mr Vajpayee, who read out the letter to his BJP Parliamentary Party colleagues at the weekly meeting, decided to write a letter to the Lok Sabha Speaker when his party MPs poured out litany of complaints against the Lok Sabha presiding officer.

Parliamentary Party spokesman V.K. Malhotra said when Mr Vajpayee read out Mr Chatterjee's letter, Lok Sabha MPs told the former Prime Minister that "they have often been humiliated by the Speaker in the past two years" and asked him to send a suitable reply.

Coming under pressure from his party colleagues, Mr Vajpayee went to the extent of telling the Speaker that "a legislature's proceedings can be smooth and constructive only if the Presiding Officer is able to inspire as much confidence in the Opposition as he is able to do in the ruling parties".

"A stark reality is that this situation is totally absent in our House", Mr Vajpayee said and told Mr Chatterjee that "confidence in one's fairness and objectivity has to be commanded; it cannot be demanded".

The former Prime Minister also informed the Speaker about ''the flood of reactions" that Mr Chatterjee's letter evoked when it was read out to them. Mr Vajpayee ended his letter, saying that: "I regret, therefore, the decision taken by the NDA last evening stands".

Mr Vajpayee's letter comes after many veiled ultimatum of bringing a no-confidence motion against Mr Chatterjee. The BJP leaders have been telling mediapersons that the party was contemplating a no-confidence motion against the Speaker as he was "partisan and was taking sides".

The Speaker had written a letter to Mr Vajpayee yesterday asking for his intervention of reconsideration of the NDA's decision of boycott of the Lok Sabha.

Earlier, Prof Malhotra said in reply to a question that the issue of a no-confidence motion against the Speaker was "open" and a decision on it would be taken at an appropriate time by the NDA.

Meanwhile, Left parties have dared the BJP to bring a no-confidence motion against Mr Chatterjee.




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