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December 12, 2001
1820 IST

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Coffin scandal unites opposition parties

Getting together to fight the government on the Kargil coffin issue, the entire opposition is meeting in New Delhi on Thursday, December 13, to chalk out a strategy to mount pressure on the ruling National Democratic Alliance and force Defence Minister George Fernandes to resign.

The meeting, to be attended by leaders of all opposition parties, will be held in the office of the Congress Party in Parliament before the session begins on Thursday morning, Communist Party of India, Marxist, leader Somnath Chatterjee told reporters.

Meanwhile, meetings convened by Speaker G M C Balayogi to resolve the government-opposition standoff that has paralysed Parliament since Tuesday ended inconclusively, Lok Sabha sources said. Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal members are understood to have given notice for adjournment motions on the coffin issue.

The opposition parties also met on Wednesday to discuss the matter.

At a press conference, Chatterjee said Fernandes could not evade his responsibilities. "The ball is now in the prime minister's court and he should order an inquiry," he said.

Describing Fernandes's recent reinduction as defence minister as a "grave mistake", Chatterjee said the comptroller and auditor general's report was now the property of the House and the government should present its inquiry report on the matter immediately.

Chatterjee said his party wanted not a discussion in Parliament, but an inquiry into the scandal.

PTI

The Tehelka Defence Scandal: The complete coverage

The Kargil Conflict: The complete coverage

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