Laloo promises sops to Jehanabad
The Times of India News Service
NEW DELHI: Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Laloo Prasad Yadav asked for a public apology and resignations from Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Union home minister L K Advani for trying to impose President's rule in Bihar and wasting lakhs of rupees of government money in terms of wasted Parliamentary time.
On a high after the government revoked President's Rule, he used his moment of triumph to make some ambitious promises - to distribute 400 acres of land in the violence-stricken district of Jehanabad within a fortnight of a RJD government being sworn in and offering amnesty to all Naxalites operating in the area who did not have murder charges against them. He also announced that in a few days, he and Ms Rabri would do a padayatra in Jehanabad district.
A happy Mr Yadav addressed an impromptu press conference in the portico of Parliament House, rushed off to pay respects to Mahatma Gandhi, whose statue faces it and then looked up to see what looked like all the occupants of the building watching him from the first floor corridor. Dashing back into the building, he led a triumphal march up the stairs and into a press conference room where he addressed a second press conference - also impromptu.
Using the fact that Monday was International Women's Day, he said, ``Today is International Women's Day - it is fitting that on this day a grassroots woman like Rabri Devi whose neck the BJP sought to chop has been restored to power.'' ``It is also fitting that on this auspicious occasion, all the forces of secularism and social justice, the CPM, the CPI, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhgaham , the Tamil Maanila Congress, the Janata Dal minus Ram Vilas Paswan, and the Congress, particularly Ms Sonia Gandhi. Today, the roots of democracy and secularism have been strengthened,'' he said.
Asked whether he wanted Bihar governor Sunder Singh Bhandari to be removed, he said, ``Mr Bhandari might not find it congenial to remain governor. He will soon have to address a joint session in the Bihar assembly where he will have to read a speech prepared by the next ministry and it will contain strong criticism of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal, which he may not want to read. It would be better if the Centre sent some secular person who is acceptable to Ms Rabri Devi.''
Meanwhile, the CPM and the CPI said the revocation of President's Rule in Bihar was ``an important victory for the democratic forces in the country''. Blaming the BJP squarely for the debacle, the Left parties said, `` No other central government has been so authoritarian or brazen in its persistence to misuse the draconian provisions of Article 356. This should be a warning to all political parties in the BJP alliance that undemocratic methods and subversion of federalism will not pay.''
Simultaneously, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav demanded the immediate resignation of the Vajpayee government at the Centre. The Rabri Devi government was ``wrongly'' dismissed by the Centre in violation of the Constitution, he said.
The revocation was also ``an insult'' to President K R Narayanan who would have to issue another proclamation revoking Central rule, he said, adding that he had protested when the President had come to address members of both houses on the opening day as his speech contained a reference to the dismissal of the RJD government.