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Beni barb stalls House

New Delhi, March 18: The Samajwadi Party today stalled Parliament demanding that steel minister Beni Prasad Verma be expelled for alleging that Mulayam Singh Yadav had “terrorist links”.

Verma, a confidant of Mulayam before crossing over to the Congress, had made the allegation last week after the Samajwadi Party held a Muslim convention in Lucknow.

He not only refused to apologise today but repeated his allegation in the Lok Sabha, provoking Mulayam to ask the government to arrest him if it had proof about his “terrorist links” or sack the minister.

“The minister has said that I patronise terrorists. If it is so, the government should bring proof and put me in jail. If not, the minister should be sacked. Nothing short of this is acceptable,” Mulayam said angrily.

Samajwadi members trooped to the well of both Houses demanding Verma’s scalp. They refused to be pacified even after parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath’s expressed regret on behalf of the government and demanded an unconditional apology.

Verma, however, told reporters outside Parliament that he stood by what he had said.

In the House, he said today: “He (Mulayam) joined hands with those who demolished the Babri Masjid, like Kalyan Singh. His party also helped the BJP win in Gujarat. Terrorists have no religion… but I can say he (Mulayam) patronises terrorists. I can say this with authority….”

The Lok Sabha has seen repeated tiffs between Mulayam and Verma, once a top Samajwadi leader. Today, things spiralled out of control.

Mulayam and his party MPs raised the issue during zero hour in the Lok Sabha. Verma fanned the flames by repeating his comments.

The issue also figured in the Rajya Sabha after lunch, with Samajwadi members demanding Verma’s head and a clarification from the government. The uproar forced the House to be adjourned for the day.

Sources said the Congress had disapproved of Verma’s comment and pulled him up. “In politics, everyone should observe restraint in use of language. Mulayam is the head of a party supporting the government. Verma is a minister in that government,” general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said.

The BJP sought to provoke Mulayam, saying his party should withdraw support to the UPA if he was serious about not swallowing the insult.