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Sunday, July 6 1997

BJP urges Sharma to dismiss Laloo government


New Delhi, July 5: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday urged the president Dr Shanker Dayal Sharma to dismiss the Laloo Prasad Yadav government in Bihar, dissolve the state assembly and order assembly elections so as to `restore' the constitutional rule of law in the state.

The BJP sought the intervention of Dr Sharma in the wake of what it described as a `total breakdown of the constitution in Bihar'. A seven-member delegation led by former prime minister AB Vajpayee met the president and submitted a three-page memorandum expressing serious concern over the situation in the state.

Bjp spokesman Yashwant Sinha told newsmen that Vajpayee had suggested the president to seek a report from the state governor as well as from the prime minister on the prevailing situation.

The memorandum urged the president to use his authority to `save' Bihar from Laloo Yadav `who is continuing to rule the state even after being chargesheeted in the Rs 950-crore fodder scam'.

The entire Bihar administration has come to a `standstill' and the financial condition of the state is in `shambles',it said. `As a home minister... I take my own decisions' Munde Later speaking to newspersons Vajpayee said, CBI officers probing the fodder scam have already expressed apprehension about possible threat to their life before the Patna high court.

Demonstrations organised by opposition parties in Bihar face all kinds of pressures and threats, he added.

Vajpayee alleged that witnesses in the fodder scam case are being systematically eliminated and said six of them have already been killed.The delegation included Yashwant Sinha, Sushil Modi, RK Sinha, Ashwini Kumar, and Dhirendra Agarwal.

Meanwhile Laloo Prasad Yadav proved his detractors wrong by mobilising 18 of the 45 Lok Sabha MPs to cause a formal split in the Janata Dal. In addition, he left behind 6 Lok Sabha MPs from Karnataka to torment the majority faction.

A shocked Sharad Yadav who will don the mantle of the truncated party tomorrow, refused to believe that a split has taken place. He claimed ``they will all come back in 2 hours time. Our strength will go up to 46 in the Lok Sabha.''

Prime minister Inder Kumar Gujral watched the developments helplessly. He may have cast his vote as per the Supreme Court directive. But he does not know which Janata Dal he belongs to. He refused to meet Sharad Yadav today due to his pre-occupations.

He has decided to play safe and retain three union Ministers, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Kanti Singh and Jainarain, although they joined the Rashtriya Janata Dal today. R L Jalappa and S R Bommai boycotted the presidential polls at Laloo's behest and promised to fight for his cause within the party.Gujral's argument in retaining three Laloo MPs in his council of ministers is that there is no reason why MPs belonging to his party could not be retained as they had pledged support to the UF. After all, Balwant Singh Ramoowalia and YK Alagh did not represent any party. Former prime minister H D Deve Gowda, who is the chairman of the United Front's steering committee, left for Shirdi this evening in the hope of staging a comeback as soon as he heard about the split.

Gowda plans to keep Laloo's Rashtriya Janata Dal out of the UF with the help of his Left allies and others. Although Laloo has already been invited to attend the July 8 UF's steering committee meeting, Andhra Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu is finding ways to wriggle out of the situation.

Interestingly, Deve Gowda has been trying out his own games. He is said to have contacted Laloo's confidante Prem Gupta, a Rajya Sabha MP this morning and deputed C M Ibrahim and Srikant Jena to speak to the Bihar Chief Minister not to split the party.

Copyright © 1997 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.

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