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RENUKA FARM RATH ROLLED BACK 

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FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT   |   Published 29.11.00, 12:00 AM

New Delhi, Nov. 29 :    New Delhi, Nov. 29:  In the Sixties, Atal Behari Vajpayee headed for Parliament in a bullock cart to rub in his rage at rising oil prices. This morning, Renuka Chow-dhury, the MP of substance from Andhra, spared the beasts the burden and trundled down Parliament Street in a farmer's modern-day friend: a tractor. Unlike Vajpayee who ended his symbolic protest midway, Renuka's parade to project farmers' woes almost reached the House. But at the gates, her tractor was stopped in its tracks. 'The tractor does not have a parliamentary sticker,' Lok Sabha Speaker G.M.C. Balayogi later told the House. Before reaching Parliament, Renuka had tried to drop in at Vajpayee's house. But police would have none of it. Then the tractor lumbered up to Parliament, its progress closely followed by journalists and curious bystanders. Once again, the police played spoilsport. They wouldn't allow the chariot of the soil past Vijay Chowk, outside the Parliament gates. Inside, Renuka's colleagues cranked up for a confrontation. 'A Lok Sabha member has been stopped from entering Parliament. This is most offensive,' said Congress MP Margaret Alva. Party colleague and farmers' friend Buta Singh ploughed into the debate. 'The tractor is not a heavy vehicle. The honourable member was driving down to Parliament in a tractor to talk on farmers' issues,' he said. Buta said he found Renuka surrounded by policemen. 'I stopped to find out what happened and discovered that she was being prevented from entering Parliament. The House must give her protection.' Members of the BJP, its allies and the Left kept laughing as Buta complained to the Speaker, but the Congress members were poker-faced. BJP's R.P. Rudi butted in with a logistics problem. 'Today, the honourable MP wants to come to Parliament in a truck to highlight farmers' problems. Tomorrow, bus drivers and pilots may have a problem. So will they drive down in buses or fly down in planes?' he asked. Not to mention tanks, pointed out former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar. 'How can the House seriously discuss such an issue? Tomorrow someone may want to come to Parliament in a tank. Will that be allowed?' he asked. The Congress fished out an anecdote to silence the critics. 'I remember the day when Vajpayee tried to come to Parliament in a bullock-cart. So what is wrong with a tractor?' retorted Priya Ranjan Das Munshi. Just as the House was recovering, in walked the star of the drama. Unruffled, she strode to her seat.    


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