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December 3, 2001
1614 IST

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Vajpayee convenes all-party meeting on POTO

Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Monday informed the Lok Sabha that he would summon an all-party meeting on the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance on Wednesday.

Vajpayee agreed to an all-party meeting following tumultuous scenes in the house during zero hour, when the Samata Party member Prabhunath Singh accused the opposition of being in league with the terrorists by opposing POTO.

The prime minister asserted that his speech in Hyderabad on Sunday did not doubt the patriotism of any community as the opposition was making out to be.

He said that 'there is no question of doubting the patriotism of any community' and clarified that he had said that POTO would not adversely affect the minorities.

He pointed out that his government favoured consensus on the ordinance and it would have been better if it had consulted the opposition parties before bringing it forward.

"But how can the opposition question the government's authority to promulgate any ordinance," Vajpayee asked.

He also refuted the opposition charge that the government was playing politics by bringing forward POTO.

He reminded the opposition, particularly the Congress, that 'we too were in the opposition but we did not behave as the opposition is behaving now'.

"People listen to my speeches very carefully and there is no question of instigating any community," the prime minister told the house.

Vajpayee also had a dig at the Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who had caused uproarious scenes in the house during question hour on the same issue.

"Wasn't Mulayam Singh Yadav playing politics by raising the issue of POTO during question hour," the prime minister asked, adding that the former had made a mockery of the recent conference on parliamentary decency and decorum.

Earlier, Prabhunath Singh's assertion that the opposition parties were hand-in-glove with the terrorists, caused bedlam in the house with Akhilesh Singh (Samajwadi Party), S Jaipal Reddy and Priyaranjan Dasmunshi (Congress) and Somnath Chatterjee (CPM) demanding that the former should apologise for his 'unparliamentary remarks'.

Dasmunshi alleged that 'Prabhunath Singh is a CIA agent' after which the latter repeated his allegation against the opposition.

Speaker G M C Balyogi had to use his persuasive prowess to restore order in the house after which the prime minister made his reply to the tumultuous zero hour discussion on POTO.

Related Report:
Govt to consider changes to POTO

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