Debating India

NDA plans to boycott Parliament

Wednesday 27 April 2005, by PRASAD*K.V.

Campaign against Lalu to be stepped up

NEW DELHI: Stepping up its campaign against the Railway Minister, Lalu Prasad, and the "attitude" of the United Progressive Alliance Government, the National Democratic Alliance announced on Tuesday night that its constituents would boycott Parliament this week.

The decision came after Parliament witnessed tumultuous scenes and repeated adjournments with the Opposition demanding the resignation of Mr. Prasad and the ruling coalition benches especially the Rashtriya Janata Dal joining issue.

Besides verbal duels in both Houses, members in the Rajya Sabha on either side physically restrained some of their colleagues to prevent the situation going out of hand.

"Cannot remain Minister"

After a two-hour meeting at the residence of the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the NDA decided on intensifying the campaign against Mr. Prasad, who, it said, could not remain a Minister after charges were framed against him by a Ranchi court in a fodder scam case.

Addressing presspersons, the NDA leaders, George Fernandes, L.K. Advani and Jaswant Singh, said the behaviour of the ruling coalition and some of its constituents towards the NDA members made them feel "as if the ruling alliance does not want an opposition." Mr. Fernandes said that after the court framed charges, including cheating against the Railway Minister, "such a person could not be present in the House." Mr. Advani said the NDA would explain the rationale behind this decision and made it clear there was no reference to the role of the Speaker at the meeting

Unfortunate, says Speaker

The Speaker, Somnath Chatterjee, termed the NDA decision "unfortunate" and said the Opposition had a role in parliamentary democracy. It was his endeavour to give time to all members within rules.

The Lok Sabha is scheduled to begin discussions on the Finance Bill on Thursday after the House applies the guillotine on Wednesday evening and puts to vote demands for grants for various Ministries.

The Lok Sabha has discussed demands for grants for the Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development and is expected to take up those for the Home Ministry on Wednesday.

Mr. Chatterjee has called a meeting of leaders of various political parties for Wednesday to discuss the frequent adjournments and standoff between the Opposition and the UPA constituents. The NDA is unlikely to attend the meeting.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Chatterjee conveyed to the BJP that he was upset since no one from the party turned up at a meeting he had called to find a way out after the first adjournment. However, after the final adjournment, Mr. Advani met the Speaker in his chamber. The Defence Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, who is the leader of the Lok Sabha and the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, attended the meeting.

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