The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Laloo in, rivals to sit out the week

New Delhi, April 26: The BJP-led Opposition has decided to boycott Parliament during the rest of this week, capping a tumultuous day that put Laloo Prasad Yadav under the glare simultaneously in the Lok Sabha as well as the Supreme Court.

The NDA will stay away from Parliament to protest a host of issues but the prime target is the railway minister. The Opposition, which has been demanding Laloo Prasad's resignation over the Gujarat attack controversy, stepped up its offensive after he was charged in an another fodder scam case yesterday.

In the middle of the uproar in the House today, the government drew legal fire from the Supreme Court for not contesting the clean chit given to Laloo Prasad by the income-tax department in a disproportionate assets case.

The court also ordered Patna High Court to set up a bench to see whether Laloo Prasad can be prosecuted on charges of trying to misuse his official position to bury the case. The court took the unusual step of naming the judge who will head the bench. ( )

The boycott decision was taken at an Opposition alliance meeting chaired by NDA chairperson A.B. Vajpayee.

The NDA decided not to attend any meeting of the parliamentary committees slated to take place this week or claim the allowances of its MPs.

The alliance will also skip an all-party meeting that Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee will convene tomorrow morning in an effort to break the Laloo Prasad impasse. Chatterjee termed the decision 'unfortunate' and appealed to the NDA to reconsider it.

However, the Telugu Desam Party, which technically is not part of the NDA but has been coordinating with the coalition on floor strategy, did not attend this evening's meeting.

BJP sources said the strategy the coalition will adopt next week ' whether they will continue the boycott ' would depend on what 'initiative' the government takes to 'soften' its 'intransigent stand' towards the Opposition.

Before the NDA met, parliamentary affairs minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had tried to end the stalemate by calling a meeting of Opposition leader L.K. Advani and senior ministers Pranab Mukherjee and Arjun Singh.

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