Cabinet to discuss Bajrang, VHP ban

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  • Published 5.10.08

New Delhi, Oct. 4: The Prime Minister will call a special cabinet meeting to discuss a possible ban on the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad over the continuing attacks on Christians in Orissa and Karnataka.

Several Union ministers demanded a ban on the two outfits at a cabinet meeting today.

Manmohan Singh has also called a National Integration Council meeting on October 13 to test the waters for a possible dismissal of the Orissa government.

At the council – whose members include Union ministers, chief ministers, heads of national commissions and eminent public figures -- the UPA hopes to get a sense of whether it can isolate the BJP if the situation warrants the use of Article 356 in Orissa.

By calling a special cabinet meeting — as he had done after the Delhi blasts — Singh wants to show that the government considers communal violence as “heinous” as terrorism, sources said.

At today’s cabinet meeting, Kapil Sibal, P.R. Das Munshi, Oscar Fernandes, Vayalar Ravi and Kumari Selja slammed Karnataka for denying the Bajrang Dal’s role in the attacks. Home minister Shivraj Patil, however, was “non-committal” about a ban, the sources said.

Sibal, Digvijay Singh and Salman Khurshid are weighing the option of moving a PIL in the Supreme Court to secure an injunction against the Orissa and Karnataka governments for their failure to stop the violence.

Singh told the cabinet the attacks had impaired India’s image abroad, and he was “deeply embarrassed” when French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Union officials raised the matter with him in Marseilles on September 29.