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Lok Sabha to discuss Ayodhya issue on Feb 26

Shahid K Abbas in New Delhi | February 18, 2003 17:40 IST

The Business Advisory Committee of Lok Sabha on Tuesday decided to take up the Ayodhya issue for discussion on February 26 after the presentation of the Rail Budget, which was earlier scheduled for February 24.

The opposition parties also agreed to defer till February 26 its plans to move a censure motion in Lok Sabha on the Ayodhya issue. Both the government and the opposition also agreed that the opposition would move the motion under rule 184 that provides for voting. Earlier, the opposition parties had said that they would move an adjournment motion on the issue today.

The committee also decided that the Union Budget will be presented on February 28 as scheduled earlier. The other days will be reserved for routine business. The discussion on the motion of thanks to President A P J Abdul Kalam's speech will be taken up on February 24-25. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will reply to the debate on February 27.

On Wednesday, the House is expected to take up a discussion on the developments concerning Iraq.

The committee meeting was held under the stewardship of Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi.

A dinner meeting convened by Congress president Sonia Gandhi of opposition leaders on the eve of the Budget session on Sunday evening had decided to raise the Ayodhya issue, but had not revealed the timing and the way it intended to raise the matter.

Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Somnath Chatterjee said the party agreed to drop its plans for moving an adjournment motion, as it felt that "exhausting" the Ayodhya issue before the election to the assemblies of Himachal Pradesh and three northeastern states on February 26 may be "counter-productive".

Chatterjee said by moving an application before the Supreme Court for vacating its stay on religious activities in the acquired land at Ayodhya, the Vajpayee government "is trying to disturb the status quo just before elections are scheduled in four states."

"Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee stands totally unmasked. He has surrendered to Advani, Togadia and company," the CPI-M leader said.

He also accused the National Democratic Alliacne allies of "having no credibility or morality", but to support the BJP-led government "without any principles" and demanded the arrest of VHP leader Togadia under Prevention of Terrorism Act.

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