ADVANI GROWLS AT CENTRAL RULE CRY 

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By FROM KAY BENEDICT
  • Published 23.07.02
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New Delhi, July 23 :    New Delhi, July 23:  Burying the hesitancy that marked his tenure as home minister, L.K. Advani today defended Narendra Modi and his plans for early polls in Gujarat to the hilt. The chief minister does not need your certificate, the deputy Prime Minister told the Opposition parties, while rejecting their demand for President's rule in the state. He needs the certificate of the people, which he is going to get. Advani dismissed the Opposition's charge that the Gujarat violence was state-sponsored and said the killings did not amount to genocide. "To call it a genocide is wrong and will send wrong signals to the world as people from both communities have been killed in the violence. If it was state-sponsored, then 201 people would not have been killed in police firing." "A few incidents of rape took place but not in thousands as some members have alleged," he added. Advani defended Modi's recommendation for dissolving the Assembly. What the Gujarat government has done is within the ambit of the Constitution and politically right, he said and slammed as "totally wrong" the Opposition's charge that an RSS chief minister's recommendation for dissolving the House had been accepted by an RSS Governor. "As per Article 174 of the Constitution, a Governor is duty bound to accept the recommendations of a chief minister who enjoys majority," he pointed out. Advani's reply to an eight-hour discussion on an Opposition-sponsored motion in the Lok Sabha under Rule 193 also touched on the forensic report on the Godhra train carnage, the original flashpoint for the riots. One did not require a forensic report to reach the conclusion that someone had thrown inflammable material into the coach to burn it, he said. "The basic theory that kar sevaks did it is wrong. We are not encouraging communal harmony by saying so. One must weigh each word while referring to it," Advani said. The deputy Prime Minister said the BJP national executive at Goa had expressed full faith in Modi and rejected his resignation offer. A dissatisfied Opposition walked out as soon as Advani finished his speech and just before the Speaker adjourned the House. The debate, initiated by the CPM's Basudev Acharya, saw Congress members Priya Ranjan Das Munshi and Margaret Alva and CPM MP Somnath Chatterjee tear into the government and the BJP for trying to garner votes by communally polarising Gujarat. Much to the embarrassment of the BJP and the government, several of its allies - the Telugu Desam Party, the Trinamul Congress, the Janata Dal (United) and the Samata Party - also objected to the haste in seeking elections even though relief and rehabilitation work was still going on. The allies said the situation was not conducive to polls and holding of elections could not be the overriding priority. Parliament had earlier discussed the Gujarat violence twice under Rule 184 and Rule 193. Advani had then appeared hesitant to defend Modi. The discussion today was markedly different with treasury benches appearing indifferent. Unlike in the Rajya Sabha, the BJP speakers in the lower House were lightweights and at one time, no senior minister was present. Even minister of state for home Vidyasagar Rao had stepped out. Around late evening, only a 100-odd MPs were present. Congress member Kamal Nath and others created a ruckus and asked why neither Advani nor his deputy was present. Hearing the commotion, parliamentary affairs minister Pramod Mahajan rushed inside. Advani arrived a little later. The deputy Prime Minister said the Centre was prepared to consider the proposal for imposing President's rule in all states a month before the poll process. But an exception could not be made only in the case of Gujarat. Arguing for the need for early polls in the state, he said "elections will help reduce tensions as people's attention gets diverted towards the poll process".