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Opposition clamours for Lalu's resignation
December 15, 2004 13:41 IST
Last Updated: December 15, 2004 17:13 IST
The absence of Railway Minister Lalu Prasad in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday forced adjournment of the house for the day with an angry opposition demanding his resignation over Tuesday's train accident in Punjab in which 38 passengers lost their lives.
When the House reassembled after two adjournments, Speaker Somnath Chatterjee accepted pleas made by Leader of the Opposition L K Advani and National Democratic Alliance chairman Atal Bihari Vajpayee to adjourn the house till Thursday when Prasad is expected to make a statement on the rail tragedy.
Trouble began soon after question hour when opposition members led by National Democratic Alliance chairman Atal Bihari Vajpayee questioned Prasad's absence. The minister had assured the house that he would take the members into confidence on the mishap after his return from accident site.
Chatterjee, in the midst of uproar, observed he would not be cowed down and was not going to adjourn the House. But after nearly 40 minutes of uproar, the house was first adjourned for ten minutes and later for over an hour.
Inbetween, when the house reassembled, BJP members Harin Pathak and Sushil Kumar Modi said Prasad must come to the house and apprise members about the situation. They would not allow the house to function till he did so. "This is a question of dignity of the House," they remarked. Sumitra Mahajan, who was in the chair, then adjourned the house till 1400 IST.
The Speaker used the adjournment to hold consultations with leaders of various political parties to restore normalcy.
As the Lok Sabha met at 1400 IST, Leader of the Opposition L K Advani pleaded for adjournment of the House for the day saying a stalemate-like situation had arisen in view of the railway minister's absence. The Speaker, however, made it clear that the adjournment should not be treated as a precedent in the future.
Communist Party of India member Gurudas Dasgupta said he was equally disturbed over the tragedy and wanted the minister to come to the house and make a statement. At the same time, he was not agreeable to an adjournment.
Devendra Prasad Yadav (Rashtriya Janata Dal) described as 'unfortunate' the stand taken by the opposition and dismissed it as a calculated move. He requested the Speaker not to start a precedent by adjourning the house.
Noisy scenes were also witnessed in the Rajya Sabha as opposition members pressed for Prasad's resignation after Bharatiya Janata Party member Ravi Shankar Prasad alleged that the accident had occurred due to system failure.
Earlier, both Houses of Parliament condoled the death of 38 persons in the accident. Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and Rajya Sabha chairperson Bhairon Singh Shekhawat placed on record the deep sense of sorrow over the accident. Both Houses observed a minute's silence in memory of those killed.
More reports from Punjab
Read about: Striking a Discordant Note