The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Laloo buzz behind every bush

New Delhi/Patna, April 28: A couple of hours after an Opposition delegation led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee met the President today seeking Laloo Prasad Yadav's removal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called on A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

The meeting set off speculation of a possible 'intervention' by Kalam in the continuance of the railway minister after a special CBI court framed charges against him in a fodder case, but Rashtrapati Bhavan sources described it as a 'routine' interaction.

They said the Prime Minister had sought the meeting with Kalam and that he briefed the President on the recent visits of several foreign leaders, including Pervez Musharraf, and his own trip to Indonesia.

The meeting was pre-scheduled and it had nothing to do with the NDA delegation calling on Kalam, the Prime Minister's media adviser said.

However, a source, asked if the standoff over Laloo Prasad and the resultant impasse in Parliament figured in the talks, said: 'It may have.'

The BJP has mounted a two-pronged attack on Laloo Prasad. In Patna, it sought a CBI probe into an alleged flood relief scam involving a high-profile IAS officer, Gautam Goswami, who recently resigned.

The BJP said Laloo Prasad's name should be added when a first information report is filed. The party said top officials close to Laloo Prasad were involved in the scandal. Goswami today denied the charges in Delhi.

The memorandum submitted by the NDA delegation to the President said: 'We hold the Prime Minister guilty of tainting his own high office by' indefensibly defending his (Laloo Prasad's) continued inclusion in the Union cabinet.'

A BJP leader said while assuring the delegation that he would 'study' the memorandum, Kalam asked why the political establishment turned down the Supreme Court's proposal (it was made when the NDA was in power) that no person with a criminal background should be allowed to contest an election.

The NDA leaders replied that the proposal included Section 144 of the IPC that deemed even participation in an agitation as a 'criminal' charge and it could have been misused to settle political scores.

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