Ruckus in Lok Sabha over Soren issue

NDA attacks the PM for inducting the JMM leader in his cabinet and seeks an apology for it, reports Shekhar Iyer.

india Updated: Nov 29, 2006 22:57 IST

A volley of allegations and counter-allegations in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday caused the House to be adjourned for over two hours.

Leader of Opposition LK Advani led an angry BJP's attempt in the House to corner the government on the issue of Coal Minister Shibu Soren's conviction in a murder case.

No sooner had Advani done so, Parliamentary Affairs Minister PR Dasmunsi and allies of the Congress, including the Left, sought to turn the tables on him and the Vajpayee-led NDA.

They said Advani could not claim the high moral ground to speak on the issue since he had occupied the positions of home minister and deputy PM when he faced a chargesheet in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

An isolated Advani attempted to rebut the barrage of attack from the treasury benches. He said the case against him was due to the Ram temple movement which he was proud to lead, though he deeply regretted the demolition of the "disputed structure" in 1992.

As Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee had a tough task controlling the agitated members, Advani demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh explain why he inducted the "tainted" ministers in the first place.

He said it was a bad day for Indian democracy and the Parliament that a union minister was taken to jail on being convicted for the murder of an aide.

"This has never happened ever since India became independent. It is unfortunate if the government and the treasury benches think it is an ordinary matter."

Dasmunsi said under the law there was no distinction between a "single killing" and creating a "communal situation" where many got killed.

"If Advani could take oath when he was responsible for communal killings, why could not anyone else charged with crime but not proved not do so? What morality he is talking about? I am amused," he said, amid interruptions from BJP members.

Rejecting Advani's demand for an apology from the PM for Soren's induction, Dasmunsi said: "Our Prime Minister took the resignation of the minister, who was convicted. He is very clear that anybody who is convicted should go out."

Advani kept pressing his point, saying that "so far we have been talking about criminalisation of politics. Now what is happening is the criminalisation of council of ministers. The PM should clarify his position in the House and tender an apology."

No BJP ally spoke, except JDU's Prabhunath Singh, who wanted Railway Minister Lau Prasad Yadav to go.

Advani said: "The struggle for (a Ram temple) was a movement. I am proud of that movement. But I am sorry for the demolition of the mosque."

The ruckus lead to an adjournment of the Lok Sabha for more than two hours over a remark made by CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta against Advani, which was later expunged.

Dasgupta expressed regrets, saying that he held Advani "personally in esteem" and wanted Advani to withdraw his remark against him.

In the Rajya Sabha too, business could not be transacted as the House was adjourned once and later for the rest of the day. The BJP members, led by Jaswant Singh and Sushma Swaraj, wanted the PM to explain why Soren was inducted into the Cabinet in 2004 and then again last year when he had to resign earlier.

Meanwhile, President APJ Abdul Kalam, who is away in Bhubaneswar, accepted the resignation of Soren, a Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson said.

First Published: Nov 29, 2006 12:39 IST