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|March 23, 1998|
Pawar says BJP went back on commitment to Sangma
The Congress today said the Bharatiya Janata Party's attitude in the Speaker's election has thoroughly exposed the hollowness of the party's commitment to consensus, and has paved the way for a confrontationist course right from day one.
Addressing a news conference, Sharad Pawar, leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, said till this morning, the ruling party gave the impression that it would back P A Sangma for the post. But around 1030 hours today Home Minister L K Advani told him that they wanted to field a TDP candidate and sought the Congress's support, but refused to disclose the identity of the TDP candidate.
The Congress, therefore, did not react to the proposal, but two hours later Advani said G M C Balayogi would be the BJP's candidate.
The BJP's going back on Sangma's candidature clearly proved that its claim of consensus politics was hollow, Pawar said. The Congress would accept the challenge and has fielded Sangma for the post, who will be the Congress-United Front's joint candidate.
Pawar said as many as a dozen Congress and UF leaders have sponsored Sangma's candidature. They include former prime ministers H D Deve Gowda and I K Gujral, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, CPI leader Geeta Mukherjee, P Shiv Shankar and a few MPs from the North-East, besides Pawar.
Joining issue with Pawar, Union Home Minister and BJP president Lal Kishinchand Advani said at no point of time had he or his party agreed to accept Sangma as the consensus candidate for the Speakership as Pawar had claimed.
He said he held two rounds of talks with Pawar to persuade him to accept the ruling party nominee for the Speakership, but Pawar did not agree.
Advani said during their meetings at 1030 hours and 1230 hours today, he reminded Pawar of the situation in 1991 when the Congress was in a minority but the BJP had supported its candidate. If the BJP had supported Rabi Ray's candidature he would have got elected.
The BJP leader said at their second meeting he had informed Pawar about the TDP candidate and appealed to Pawar to support him.
Reportage by Tara Shankar Sahay and UNI
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