The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Singh shoulders Bihar onus
- PM defends dissolution, Buta fate still hangs in balance

Chandigarh, Oct. 8: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said he would not back away from owning responsibility for clamping President’s rule in Bihar.

“I do not disown responsibility. I am not backing away. There were specific circumstances for our action. Dissolution was the only practical approach,” he told a news conference, with Congress president Sonia Gandhi at his side, at the end of the party chief ministers’ conclave.

“As you all know, the governor made a recommendation and the Union cabinet acted on that. The Supreme Court has declared the dissolution as unconstitutional. We don’t know the reasons.

“We will have to wait for the detailed judgment before making any further comments. We don’t know why the Supreme Court bench gave this majority judgment. It is too soon for a reaction. The court came to this conclusion based on certain facts, and I can comment only if I know those facts.”

Asked if the court verdict would force a rethink on politicians being appointed governors, he said: “If someone is active in politics, I don’t see any reason for this becoming a disqualification of becoming a governor.”

The Prime Minister’s comments came in the middle of efforts to persuade a reluctant Buta Singh to quit as Bihar governor. Led by Sonia, party leaders and Union ministers are understood to have held informal consultations late last night.

The huddle coincided with indications that Buta had turned down feelers suggesting he should “voluntarily” quit. Among those who spoke to Buta were home minister Shivraj Patil and CPM veteran Harkishen Singh Surjeet. The Congress is also in touch with Laloo Prasad Yadav on the issue.

The Prime Minister is said to be not averse to suggestions that Buta should be replaced but the Congress leadership feels that no decision should be taken in a hurry.

Sources said had the earthquake not overtaken events, the government’s and the party’s hands may have been forced on the governor. “Buta Singh will have to go,” a senior Congress leader had said in the morning at Chandigarh.

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