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Advani burst drowns Singh ceasefire call

New Delhi, July 4: After a failed telephone talk between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Opposition leader L.K. Advani and a fruitless all-party meeting at the initiative of the Speaker, Parliament opens tomorrow to the sound of war bugles.

Singh’s public appeal for cooperation cut no ice with the BJP which appeared determined to turn on the offensive over two issues — the presence of what it calls “tainted” ministers in the United Progressive Alliance government and the dismissal of governors.

“We are willing to talk to anybody.... Parliament is a forum for dialogue and discussion. All political parties regardless of our differences... should respect the great institution of Parliament and it should be allowed to function smoothly,” Singh said after the all-party meeting.

The Prime Minister had spoken to Advani yesterday. But indication that the BJP leadership would not heed Singh’s plea came when Advani did not even attend the all-party meeting and sent parliamentary party spokesman V.K. Malhotra instead.

Advani went ahead with a scheduled trip to his constituency Gandhinagar, where he blamed the government for making sure that the deadlock during the new Parliament’s first session, when the Opposition protested against the induction of “tainted” ministers, continued in the budget sitting also.

He said the government had extended the logjam by sacking four governors through a wrong interpretation of the Constitution, displaying “political groupism”.

“Have they (the government) ever thought how serious the repercussions of such selective sacking done by wrongly interpreting the Constitution for political reasons could be'” he asked.

Advani feared that the removal of the four governors was a prelude to the sacking of BJP governments in states. In two of the states — Gujarat and Goa — the BJP is in power. The others are Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee asked home minister Shivraj Patil to apologise for reducing the governor’s position to that of a “daily wage worker”.

Condemning the government for dismissing the governors on the basis of differences of “ideology”, Vajpayee said the government would have to change its attitude if it wanted the Opposition’s cooperation in running Parliament smoothly.

“The situation has come to such a pass that we are forced to voice our opposition,” he said.

The heat on the government on “tainted” ministers would not ease up either. “This is such a grossly wrong step of the UPA government that it will not be easy for them to free themselves of it,” Advani said.

During the time the railway and general budgets are presented in Parliament, the BJP will run a protest campaign against the “numerous undemocratic decisions of the central government based on narrow political gains”.

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