The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Delhi gets Bihar and angry Laloo

New Delhi, March 6: After the governor's recommendation, President's rule in Bihar is only a formality but the process remained incomplete tonight in the absence of a regulation Union cabinet meeting.

So when Rabri Devi wakes up tomorrow, she will still be chief minister, though the term of the Assembly ended at midnight.

The Manmohan Singh government decided against holding a cabinet meeting today, where Governor Buta Singh's recommendation has to be formally accepted, in part because Laloo Prasad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan were not in Delhi.

Both are key players in the bizarre drama in Patna where they are ranged against each other despite being part of the same government in Delhi.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said: 'President's rule is inevitable in Bihar.'

The cabinet meeting is expected to be held sometime over the week, possibly tomorrow, to impose President's rule and put the Assembly in 'suspended animation'.

Paswan, the Lok Janshakti Party leader, holds the key to power in Patna but, so far, neither the BJP nor Laloo Prasad's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) ' or, for that matter, the Congress ' has been able to persuade him to join hands with them.

Painted the villain by both sides, Paswan accepted the role with elan. 'I take full responsibility. We were not ready to compromise on our stand against the RJD or the BJP. Both parties were capable of triggering communal riots in desperation had either of them not been part of a new government. Then, too, I would have been blamed,' Paswan said.

He added that a brief spell of President's rule would help clean up the 'accumulated garbage' of RJD rule.

Even the BJP saw the option as acceptable in the circumstances, but was also afraid that President's rule might mean Laloo Prasad calling the shots through the backdoor.

Party president L.K. Advani said: 'I would like that the Prime Minister takes personal interest in this matter.'

The RJD, which had staked claim through Rabri Devi yesterday, was angry at the turn of events. Spokesman Shivanand Tiwari asked the Congress to decide whether Paswan should continue in the central alliance.

'If he (Paswan) does not budge from his stand, the two should consider continuation of Paswan in the coalition,' he said.

Tiwari wondered whether the Congress was in cahoots with Paswan. 'What was the role of Paswan and the Congress in it (the deadlock)'

The Congress is aware that President's rule is not going to improve its relations with Laloo Prasad, but believes that since he does not have the numbers, the Jharkhand controversy should not be repeated.

Its caution was reflected in Buta Singh asking Rabri Devi for affidavits of support from legislators. As no one had 122 MLAs in the bag, he conveyed his recommendation to home minister Shivraj Patil, prompting an hour-long meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.


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