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|March 25, 1998||
Did Advani take over Manmohan Singh's room?
The government has been formed, Parliament is in session -- but Opposition leader in Rajya Sabha, Dr Manmohan Singh, has no room to call his own.
Flip as it sounds, the issue created much of an uproar in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. And the villain of the drama, Congressmen allege, is Home Minister L K Advani.
Soon after Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee introduced his council of ministers to the Upper House, Congress leader Vayalar Ravi rose to complain that Advani was occupying -- "forcibly" -- the room allotted to Dr Singh. The room was earlier occupied by Sikandar Bakht in his capacity as the leader of Opposition, and had been allotted to Dr Singh. But when he went to occupy the room, he found it was in Advani's possession.
Congress members S S Alhuwalia and Saroj Khaparde, and Left MPs rose in defence of the former finance minister.
Advani confirmed what Ravi had said. He, however, claimed the room was allotted to him. He was willing to vacate the room if it had hurt the feelings of any member.
Sikander Bakht, the current industries minister, said the room allotted to Dr Singh, which was nearer to the Lok Sabha, could be interchanged with that of Sharad Pawar, the Opposition leader in the Lower House. That was nearer the Rajya Sabha.
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