The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Savarkar inside, Cong outside

Ahmedabad, May 28: The Congress Legislature Party today boycotted the unveiling of Veer Savarkarís portrait by Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat in the Gujarat Assembly.

Leader of the Opposition Amarsinh Chaudhary said they kept away from the function in accordance with the party line. The Congress had boycotted the installation of Savarkarís portrait in the Central Hall of Parliament.

But Chaudharyís move was clearly an afterthought, as was borne out by the fact that the name of the leader of the Opposition was included on the list of official invitations sent to all the legislators and other VIPs.

He had agreed with the state governmentís decision to instal the portrait when chief minister Narendra Modi announced it during the budget session.

Apparently, Chaudhary was told by the party high command to fall in line with the stand taken by the Congress parliamentary party, which, along with the Left parties, had boycotted a similar function in Parliament.

Clarifying his stand, Chaudhary said his earlier support was conditional.

The Opposition leader said he had told the BJP that he would attend the ceremony only if it was organised after Savarkarís portrait was installed in the Maharashtra Assembly and the dispute over the issue in Parliament was resolved amicably.

But since the BJP had decided to go ahead with the function without meeting his conditions, the Congress decided to boycott the function, he added.

Shekhawat is in Gujarat on a three-day official visit, his first to the state since taking over as the Vice-President.

Earlier, he inaugurated Agro-Vision 2003 in Rajkot and will launch a newly constructed cultural centre at Dudhai near Bhuj.

The Vice-President will offer prayers at the Dwarikhadhish and Somnath temples tomorrow before leaving for New Delhi.

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