The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Vajpayee back with old vigour

New Delhi, Dec. 21: Is it the winter air or is it the camera'

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who has been in hibernation since his party lost power this May, has sprung back on centrestage with his characteristic flourish.

All through Parliament's winter session he has vociferously gunned for the government and its allies like he never did in its monsoon sitting. The unexpected vigour ' he turns 81 on Christmas ' has set tongues wagging without end on who or what could have ignited the old spark.

For one, the House is going live on television, courtesy the honourable Speaker, Somnath Chatterjee. Or is it the crystal-gazers, who had predicted that happy days would be here again'

Or is he trying to upstage the leader of Opposition L.K. Advani' Or is he sending a message that he is still around and fighting fit and had miles to go'

Whatever the inspiration, Vajpayee's verbal fireworks today set the Lok Sabha on fire as he tore into Laloo Prasad Yadav for violating the model code of conduct and for not reporting to Parliament the day after the Mukerian train crash.

Alleging the railway minister had distributed 100-rupee notes to poor Dalit women not to earn goodwill but with an eye on the February polls, Vajpayee said morality demanded that Laloo Prasad be booted out of the cabinet.

'What is the use of the model code of conduct when it is not observed' The minister is not even ashamed and is openly saying he has distributed money,' Vajpayee said. 'The law is there but morality has its own place which cannot be ignored.'

He said an added reason to ease out Laloo Prasad was that he disappeared to Patna to organise a rally when he should have rightfully been in Parliament making a statement on the Mukerian mishap. If this was not an 'insult' to the House, what was, he questioned.

Unfortunately, the House did not take the 'insult' seriously, he said. He then hit out at Chatterjee for swallowing the 'insult' and blamed him for 'the sorry state of affairs' in the House.

'The leader of the House has let us down with his response. We still have some hope in the Prime Minister,' Vajpayee said.

Last week, a combative Vajpayee had forced Chatterjee to adjourn the Lok Sabha after Laloo Prasad failed to show up. He threatened to sit on dharna in the well of the House unless proceedings were called off.

Carrying on from the Laloo outburst, Vajpayee next targeted the government. The former Prime Minister said it was evident the Centre was unable to govern as it was having problems with allies who were least bothered about collective responsibility.

That way, the government appeared to be 'disintegrating' and the 'situation in the country was not good', he said.

He also mentioned the spate of farmer suicides and lashed out at the 'false promises' made by the government.

Vajpayee, who took an aggressive posture against the government at today's BJP parliamentary party meeting also, said a 'myth' was being propagated that his party was obstructing proceedings in the House.

Laloo Prasad was responsible the adjournment last week, he said.

'We have faith in democracy and we will through Parliament place our views before the country,' he said.

'Whatever happened in Parliament is because of Laloo Yadav.'

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