ADVANI'S SHORT STINT AT THE TOP 

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By FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 14.06.01
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New Delhi, June 14 :    New Delhi, June 14:  L.K. Advani returned to the head of the Cabinet table this evening, two years after chairing a meeting which recommended President's rule in Bihar. Today's Cabinet meeting took up a more sedate issue - the schedule of the monsoon session of Parliament from July 23 to August 31 - and wrapped up its business fast. "We decided to hold the meeting today because the session has to begin within three weeks of the President issuing a notification," parliamentary affairs minister Pramod Mahajan said. However, questions were raised whether the government could not have waited till early next week when Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee is scheduled to return. BJP leaders said nothing more should be "read" in the meeting than a series of "unavoidable circumstances and schedules" which forced Advani's hand. But Advani was reportedly reluctant to chair a meeting when Vajpayee is in the capital. Even if Vajpayee returns by Tuesday, he has been advised not to move out of his 3 Race Course Road home (where he and his family live) till June 26. A full Cabinet meeting can only be held at either 7 Race Course Road (where he usually holds meetings) or in South Block. Postponing the meeting to June 26 would have meant another hitch - the parliamentary affairs minister will be out of Delhi. That left today and tomorrow. Advani chose the earlier day., though only 14 of the 27 ministers could attend.