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Crisis in Samata deepens; Nitish
insists he will quit

July 15, 2003 18:21 IST

The crisis in the Samata Party deepened on Tuesday with Railway Minister Nitish Kumar refusing to withdraw his resignation from the government in spite of requests from his party president George Fernandes.

"I desire and hope Nitish Kumar will reconsider his decision," Fernandes said in New Delhi.

Fernandes, who is also defence minister, said he had a 45-minute talk with Kumar on Monday night during which he tried to persuade him.

Shortly after he reached home after a two-day meeting of party members on Monday night, Fernandes said, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee phoned him to say that Kumar had resigned.

He said he told the prime minister that the resignation should be rejected and that was done.

Replying to a question that he was 'encouraging indiscipline' in the party, Fernandes said there were only a few people who really followed the rules.

"In this party, anybody can say anything and anybody can abuse anyone. There is no limit to it," he said.

"Kumar has resigned earlier also. Even I have resigned once. Other ministers have also resigned. We have gone through ups and downs and kept the party alive."

Fernandes said Kumar was pained over the manner in which a section of Samata MPs had demanded that the expulsion from the party of two of their colleagues and three Bihar legislators be revoked.

Asked whether he would take any action against the three party MPs who were demanding that the expulsion of their colleagues be revoked, he said, "I feel disciplinary action should be taken against me too."

He said by showering praises on Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Laloo Prasad Yadav at the national council meeting, some Jharkhand ministers belonging to his party had also committed breach of discipline.

"I am the party president so the ultimate responsibility is mine."

A 'heartbroken' Kumar, on the other hand, said he had resigned because he was fed up of the feud among party leaders.

One of the MPs who was expelled, Brahmanand Mandal, had written letters to the prime minister making allegations of corruption against Kumar.

"They even gave me a copy of their letter. I said it was all rubbish and there was no truth in their charges," he said.

The railway minister added that there was no question of revoking their expulsion.

Meanwhile, those who were expelled said they would assemble on Patna on July 19 to launch a frontal attack on Kumar.

MPs Raghunath Jha and Brahmanand Mandal and MLAs Bhai Birendra and Ganesh Paswan will attend the meeting under the banner of a new outfit, the Loktantrik Samata Party, to make public Kumar's 'corrupt practices' and his 'autocratic style of functioning', P K Sinha, expelled Samata legislator and president of the LSP, said.

Due to technical reasons the two MPS and as many MLAs could join the LSP, but they would work actively under the banner of the new party outside the Lok Sabha and state assembly to expose the misdeeds of Kumar, Sinha added.

The LSP chief said that he would make public documentary evidences to reveal the corrupt practices of Kumar in awarding railway contracts.

"Kumar considers Samata Party as his pocket organisation. Genuine party workers are being neglected and only sycophants are being promoted by the railway minister resulting in weakening of the party," he said.

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