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RJD, Congress irked by Bihar governor's remarks

Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi | January 28, 2004 17:12 IST

Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Laloo Prasad Yadav's broadside against Bihar governor M Rama Jois has degenerated into a face-off between the ruling alliance in the state and the National Democratic Alliance.

In his address on the eve of Republic Day, Governor Jois criticised the state government's handling of the law and order situation and said people from other states were afraid to send their children to Bihar. Jois further infuriated the RJD chief and his chief minister wife Rabri Devi by exhorting officials to discharge their duty without fear or bias.

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Wasting little time, the RJD's coalition partner, the Congress party, quickly came to the state government's defence.

Chief Congress spokesman S Jaipal Reddy told reporters in Delhi that the governor's observations went against the letter and spirit of the Constitution and amounted to interference in the affairs of the state administration.

He also pointed out that the governor should have got his Republic Day speech cleared by the state government.

However, Jois contended the state government had not cleared the gubernatorial Republic Day speech for the last five years.

Bharatiya Janata Party spokesman Prakash Javadekar, repeating the party stand on Bihar, asserted that the absence of law and order was tantamount to breakdown of the constitutional machinery in the state. He said the abduction of Sikander Rai, the party's national council member from Rohtas, is the latest example of the 'total lawlessness and fear psychosis pervading Bihar'.

Laloo has threatened to complain to President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam about the governor not adhering to established convention. But BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi pointed out that even the Patna high court 'is ready to certify that the state is fit for being put under President's Rule'.

Though the BJP-led NDA has been keen to impose central rule, it is unable to get the legislation approved in the Rajya Sabha where it lacks a majority.

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