Debating India


No merit in NDA charge: Congress

Tuesday 24 May 2005

Special Correspondent

Our effort will be to keep the alliance together; we need not be defensive

- `It is the only option’

- Effort to ``buy up MLAs’’ a mockery

- RJD blamed for `sorry state’

NEW DELHI: Even as security was strengthened around the Congress headquarters and the adjoining residence of party president Sonia Gandhi here on Monday after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) threatened to take to the streets to protest against the presidential Proclamation to dissolve the Bihar Assembly, the Congress said it did not have to be on the defensive.

While the Left parties supporting the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government described the move as the only option under the circumstances, the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation blamed the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the Centre and the Janata Dal (United)-BJP combine for ``the cruel joke on the people of Bihar.’ It demanded recall of Governor Buta Singh and that a non-political person be appointed for the post.

All-India Congress Committee general secretary Ambika Soni told mediapersons here: "It is but natural for the BJP to blame us, but we do not have to be on the defensive." Justifying the decision under the circumstances, she saw no merit in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) charge that the Centre had ``murdered democracy.’’

Governor’s fears

``Had anyone staked a claim? What does the NDA mean by almost there? The numbers just did not add up, and the Governor publicly said last week that he apprehended horse-trading.’’

Maintaining that the decision was not taken in haste in view of the NDA’s success in poaching on the Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP), Ms. Soni said: ``Even before the LJP began splintering, the Governor was saying he feared horse-trading.’’

As for the party’s strategy for the next Assembly elections, she said: ``By virtue of our leading the UPA at the Centre, our effort will be to keep the secular alliance together.’’ However, it was still early days, she said and refused to comment on RJD leader Lalu Prasad’s statement that he would not sever his relationship with the Congress. It was unfortunate that differences between the two UPA allies in Bihar - RJD and the LJP - could not be resolved.

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) said it stated much earlier that in the event of non-formation of a government, elections should be held at the earliest. ``The only way out is to go to the people for a fresh mandate to form a government.’’ The attempt to ``buy up MLAs’’ particularly those belonging to the LJP was a mockery of the democratic system.

Given the "horse-trading and engineering of defections’’ after the fractured verdict, the Communist Party of India said dissolution of the Assembly and seeking a fresh mandate was the only feasible option.

The CPI (ML) said: "The responsibility for the present sorry state lies squarely with the RJD, its refusal to accept defeat and honour the mandate, and the opportunist political games played by the Congress and the UPA". The JD (U)-BJP combine too contributed to the situation with its "blatant attempts to engineer desertions from the LJP". By refusing to move out of the BJP-led "communal alliance" and chart a new political course in the interest of Bihar, the JD (U) "betrayed" the people’s aspirations .

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