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Soren issue rocks Parliament
November 29, 2006 12:11 IST
Last Updated: November 29, 2006 16:12 IST
The Shibu Soren issue rocked Parliament on Wednesday with the Opposition targeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for inducting 'tainted' ministers but the ruling alliance hit back reminding the Opposition that L K Advani had continued as deputy prime minister despite being chargesheeted in the Babri Masjid demolition case.
It was trouble from the start in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha as the Opposition seized the opportunity to embarrass the government over the conviction of Soren by a local court in a murder case of his private secretary.
Both the Houses faced repeated adjournments. Seeking to defend the disruption of Question Hour, Advani said in the Lok Sabha that the conviction of a Cabinet minister in a murder case was an 'unprecedented' development in the annals of Indian Parliament and the situation caused by it was 'extraordinary'.
The prime minister, he demanded, should clarify his position in Parliament and tender an apology to the nation for re-inducting Soren as he should have known that the Central Bureau of Investigation, which is under his charge, was probing a murder case against the former coal minister.
The Lok Sabha witnessed uproar several times as Advani declared that he was 'proud' to be associated with the Ayodhya movement, but 'regretted' the demolition of the disputed structure. Parliamentary Affairs Minister P R Dasmunsi rejected the Opposition demand and said the prime minister had, in fact, upheld highest values by seeking resignation of Soren from the Cabinet soon after the court verdict.
Communist Party of India leader Gurudas Dasgupta's certain comments against Advani, which were expunged by the Chair, brought agitated Bharatiya Janata Party members into the well forcing Speaker Somnath Chatterjee to adjourn the House abruptly before lunch.
Acrimonious scenes were witnessed in the Rajya Sabha too, which was adjourned for the day. As soon as the House met, Leader of the Opposition Jaswant Singh said an unusual situation had arisen due to conviction of a serving member of the Union Cabinet for murder.
He said the prime minister should explain to the House the circumstances under which Soren was re-inducted into the Cabinet despite being chargesheeted for murder of his former secretary.
Congress members protested against this leading to slogan shouting from both sides. Singh said according to the CBI chargesheet, the murder was a result of dispute over the division of bribery money received from the former prime minister.
"It is a very serious matter," he said.
Home Minister Shivraj Patil got up to explain but was not allowed as the Opposition BJP insisted on the prime minister making a statement. In Lok Sabha, Dasmunsi contended that the prime minister by seeking Soren's resignation has made it clear that if anyone was convicted, he will have to leave the council of ministers.
He reminded Advani that he was not yet free from the charges in the Babri case and that he had no moral right to seek an explanation from the prime minister.
A verbal duel between Treasury and Opposition benches continued for about 30 minutes during Question Hour despite repeated pleas by Speaker Somnath Chatterjee to allow normal functioning of the House. The prime minister, Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee and United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi were present in the House.
BJP and other National Democratic Alliance members chanted slogans like Pradhanmatri maafi mango and daagi mantri hatao (PM should apologise and remove tainted ministers).
Advani said Soren's conviction was a 'disgrace' to the political system and held the UPA government responsible for it. "Earlier, criminalisation of politics was being debated but now, for the first time we are seeing criminals in the council of ministers," he said.
Prabhunath Singh of the Janata Dal (United) used the occasion to target Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and asked the prime minister to remove all 'tainted' ministers.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) member Basudeb Acharia, Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI) and Devendra Prasad Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal attacked Advani with the CPI member saying that the 'devil should not quote from scriptures.'
The Speaker at one time was so exercised by the uproar that he threatened to quit. "I will go away immediately. It will not take more than a second to do so... It is not a matter of amusement," he warned.
He cautioned Republican Party of India member Ramdas Athawale that he would be asked to leave the House if he continued with interruptions. The Rajya Sabha, which reassembled at 1400 hours, saw renewed turmoil with the Opposition insisting on an explanation from the prime minister. As the din continued, Deputy Chairman Rehman Khan adjourned the House for the day.