DAL BANKS ON CONG VOTE OF 'CONSCIENCE' 

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By FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 4.03.00
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New Delhi, March 4 :     The Janata Dal (United) today sprang to Bihar Governor Vinod Pande's defence even as Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) parliamentary party leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh threatened to paralyse Parliament from Monday in collaboration with like-minded parties till the Governor "corrects" his "illegal" order. Holding that Pande's invitation to Nitish Kumar was "proper" and "lawful", Dal(U) spokesman Mohan Prakash tore into Opposition parties, particularly the Congress, saying they were blaming the Centre and Pande only to cover up their own lapses in approaching the Governor. He said the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) would prove its majority on the floor of the House much before the stipulated 10 days. The Dal(U) leader claimed that several RJD and Congress legislators have pledged support to the NDA. Party sources, however, said that despite NDA leaders wooing Congress and BSP legislators, not a single Opposition MLA had so far sent their letter of support to Kumar. A senior Dal(U) leader said they would get five RJD MLAs admitted to hospitals on the day of the confidence vote if the Congress MLAs backed out. Asked if the NDA was trying to split the Congress, the spokesman said the Congress MLAs would cast "conscience" votes during the trial of strength in the Assembly. Given the "established" tradition of Congressmen opting for conscience vote, "we hope all the 23 Congress MLAs will vote in favour of the NDA government". He said some Congress MLAs had even met the Governor to air their differences with the party high command on supporting the RJD and added that the NDA hoped to secure the support of 17 or 18 Independents. The Congress, which had fought against the "corrupt" RJD at the hustings, has been thoroughly exposed by supporting the RJD now, he said, adding that the people of Bihar were not ready to continue with a "proxy" government. A CPI-ML delegation met President K.R. Narayanan today and demanded the Governor's immediate recall for "clearly flouting the spirit of fairness and democracy in the state". In a memorandum, the party said: "In the delicate balance of forces prevailing in Bihar, the installation of an NDA government could only be viewed as an invitation to horse-trading and a repetition of the BJP's infamous Uttar Pradesh example in Bihar." The CPI-ML has six MLAs in the 324-member Bihar Assembly. Demanding an early recall of the Governor to arrest "further deterioration" of the situation, the party described Pande' action as "hasty, ill-conceived, blatantly biased and undemocratic", a party release said. The delegation consisted of party general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, politburo member Swadesh Bhattacharya, party MP Jayanta Rongpi and central committee member Rajaram. The party is observing a protest day in the state today and has called for a state-wide bandh tomorrow.