The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Samata meet to tackle indiscipline

New Delhi, Sept. 14: Rattled by growing indiscipline in its ranks and the rampant washing of dirty linen in public, the Samata Party has convened an emergency meeting of its parliamentary party on Tuesday.

The latest provocation for the meeting is believed to be letters sent by Munger MP Brahmanand Mandal to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and party chief George Fernandes yesterday, accusing railway minister Nitish Kumar of patronising the mafia.

Last month, another MP, Prabhunath Singh, had demanded Vajpayee’s resignation for cancelling petrol pump allotments and later wrote to then party president V.V. Krishna Rao. Though Singh was served a showcause notice, he refused to explain his conduct.

A fortnight ago, another MP, Arun Kumar, had told reporters that the Samata would be forced to quit the NDA if Narendra Modi was not reined in.

In his letter to Fernandes, Mandal accused Kumar of patronising the mafia from Calcutta to Patna and keeping the company of criminals. He also charged Kumar with dictatorial behaviour.

Mandal alleged that Kumar had taken the help of criminals during his brief stint as Bihar chief minister to prove his majority in the Assembly but had to ultimately “go”.

In his letter to Vajpayee, Mandal complained that Kumar did not invite him to functions in Munger, his Lok Sabha constituency.

Party spokesperson Shambu Shrivastava said: “A meeting of the parliamentary party is being called on September 17 to discuss all matters arising out of the release to the media of two letters written by Mandal to the Prime Minister and George Fernandes.”

Trying to downplay the growing indiscipline in the party, Samata sources said tension between the extremely backward castes (EBC) and the backward castes (BC) was the reason for Mandal’s letter.

While Mandal is an EBC, Kumar is from the backward Kurmi caste. Though Mandal was at one time an acolyte of Kumar’s, the latter had distanced himself from Mandal of late. Kumar did not invite Mandal to a recent function in Munger, and some people spoke against the MP in the presence of the railway minister.

The Samata in a statement ruled out resignation of Kumar as railway minister and accused Opposition parties of politicising the Rajdhani mishap in Rafiganj. “Samata Party decries attempts by the Opposition parties to politicise the railway accident near Rafiganj. Those who are demanding the resignation of Nitish Kumar are injecting petty politics into a heartrending human tragedy,” the party spokesman said.

Shrivastwa said Kumar had given top priority to railway safety measures. Appealing to all parties to keep politics out of the tragedy, Shrivastwa said investigations were on to find out the cause of the mishap.

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