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Cong reacts cautiously to Kalam's call

The Congress says the president's suggestion for a two-party system needs to be looked up, discussed and debated, reports Saroj Nagi.
None | By Saroj Nagi, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 10, 2007 10:36 PM IST

The Congress reacted guardedly both to President APJ Abdul Kalam’s call for a two party system and to Deputy Speaker CS Atwals’ alleged violation of propriety in protesting at a Central Hall function that it was a misnomer to call 1857 as the first war of independence as the Anglo-Sikh wars preceeded it.

According to spokesman Abhishek Singhvi any suggestion from the President needs to be looked at, discussed and debated.

"The proposal has its pluses and minuses. The Congress cannot take a view on it unless there is an indepth discussion. The view has to follow not precede discussion," he said, sidestepping the question whether the party supported or disagreed with the Presidential observation at the function in Central Hall of Parliament.

He sidestepped the question whether it was proper for Atwal to lodge his protest when Vice President BS Shekhawat was reading out his speech.

"A view had been expressed by him which may be inconsistent with the Government’s view."

According to him, Atwal had only expressed his "personal view" and there was no question of his party agreeing with that view.

Privately, however, a number of Congress leaders said that the Deputy Speaker should have observed the decorum of the office he holds.

"He is first a Sikh and then a Deputy Speaker," said Tarlochan Singh, who too had stood up to register his protest during the function.

But other members said that there has been no example of a presiding officer standing up to protest when the President is on the dias. "It is like protesting against yourself.... According to the Constitution, Parliament consists of the President and the two Houses," he said.

Reacting to questions, Singhvi said that the names of Congress leaders Pranab Mukherjee, Sushilkumar Shinde and Karan Singh as possible Presidential candidates were floated by the media and attributed to the Congress.

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