Soren conviction rocks Parliament

New Delhi, Nov 29 | Updated: Nov 30 2006, 06:51am hrs
Training its guns on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Opposition on Wednesday seized the opportunity to embarrass the UPA in Parliament on the issue of inducting tainted ministers in the government. This is an immediate consequence of JMM leader Shibu Sorens conviction by a Delhi court in a murder case.

Clearly aware of the PMs discomfort on the issue, they demanded Singh clarify his position on the issue as to why he inducted Soren despite knowing that the CBI was investigating a murder case against him.

The ruling benches, instead of searching for grounds to justify Sorens induction, went on the offensive, contending that LK Advani continued as deputy prime minister despite being chargesheeted in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

The issue left Parliament in an uproar with both the Opposition and the ruling party geared up to take on each other the moment Parliament convened. Both Houses faced repeated adjournments.

Opposition leader LK Advani said in the Lok Sabha that the conviction of a Cabinet minister in a murder case was an unprecedented development in the annals of Indias Parliamentary history and the situation caused by it was extraordinary. The PM, he demanded, should clarify his position and tender an apology to the nation for re-inducting Soren.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister P R Dasmunsi rejected the Opposition demand and said the Prime Minister had, in fact, upheld highest values by seeking resignation of Soren from the Cabinet soon after the court verdict. In the Rajya Sabha too, no sooner had the House met, Leader of the Opposition Jaswant Singh said an unusual situation had arisen due to conviction of a serving member of the Union Cabinet for murder.

He also reiterated his partys demand that the PM explain the circumstances under which Soren was re-inducted into the Cabinet despite being chargesheeted for murder. Congress members protested against this leading to slogan shouting from both sides.

Home Minister Shivraj Patil got up to explain but was not allowed as the Opposition insisted on the Prime Minister making a statement.