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BJP slams Singh, Cong goes red

New Delhi, Oct. 7: The Centre is scurrying for cover following the Supreme Court order striking down the dissolution of the Bihar Assembly today. The court did not blame governor Buta Singh alone, but also the Prime Minister.

The Janata Dal (United) demanded Manmohan Singh’s resignation while the BJP took swipes at him. “The Prime Minister’s image is getting dented and his veneer of political correctness is weaning away,” Arun Jaitley said.

The Prime Minister is expected to go into a huddle with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, home minister Shivraj Patil and defence minister Pranab Mukherjee in Chandigarh to discuss the fallout of the court order and Buta’s fate.

The Prime Minister has already met President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. The cabinet’s decision to place Bihar under central rule was taken close to midnight. The order was faxed to Kalam in Moscow and was signed and returned in the small hours. The haste had sparked speculation whether the Centre, pressured by the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), had pre-empted the National Democratic Alliance from forming a ministry.

The Prime Minister has also spoken to Patil and law minister H.R. Bhardwaj over the phone.

If Manmohan Singh looked for relief from the Left and United Progressive Alliance partners, he was offered little or none. The Left spared him but questioned Buta’s role while the RJD and the Lok Janshakti Party used the court order for their own ends.

CPM general secretary Prakash Karat said in Mumbai: “The arbitrariness and discretion of governor’s powers should go and a serious attempt made to change the structure of the institution of governor against the backdrop of the Supreme Court judgment.”

RJD chief and railway minister Laloo Prasad Yadav welcomed the ruling, but declined to comment on the governor’s role. “It is our victory as the apex court hasn’t ordered revival of the dissolved Assembly and said the elections will be held as per schedule,” he said. The LJP more or less echoed this.

But for the Congress and the Prime Minister, this is the second major blow from the courts after the February Assembly elections ' and the third political crisis Manmohan Singh has faced.

He weathered the Opposition’s attack on the Nanavati Commission’s report on the 1984 anti-Sikh violence in the monsoon session of Parliament by sacking Union minister Jagdish Tytler, who was named.

Both the party and the Prime Minister were left with egg on their faces over the aborted attempt to install a UPA government in Jharkhand after the elections threw up a hung Assembly.

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