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Removal of Advani, Modi sought

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI MARCH 6. The Opposition parties today stepped up pressure on the Government, demanding removal of the Union Home Minister, L.K. Advani, and the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, for their `failure' to contain riots in the State.

Almost all the Opposition parties met here at the residence of the CPI(M) Parliamentary Party leader, Somnath Chatterjee, and charged that neither the Gujarat Government nor the Centre appeared to be concerned over the violence that was still continuing.

``There is an incident of stabbing even today in Ahmedabad. It is shocking. Not only the Gujarat Chief Minister but also the Union Home Minister is equally responsible.

They should be removed. There has been total failure and tacit support of the Gujarat Government to the rioters,'' Mr. Chatterjee said after a 45-minute meeting.

The Opposition MPs would hold a `dharna' tomorrow at Parliament House in protest and send a team to Gujarat, the day after. They also demanded that a judicial inquiry by a sitting judge into the riots be held.

The former Prime Minister, Deve Gowda, in a separate letter to the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, stressed the need for a judicial probe into the incidents starting from Godhra to those in Gujarat elsewhere.

On the developments in Ayodhya, the leaders said it was unfortunate that the Government has not taken the Opposition into confidence. The Ayodhya tangle could be resolved only through the court verdict.

``It appears that a mob frenzy is being built and the Government has been taken over by the `sadhus'. This cannot be allowed and the Opposition would protest both inside and outside Parliament,'' Mr. Chatterjee said.

The leaders said it was time all the secular parties within NDA made their position clear. ``They cannot oppose developments in Ayodhya and Gujarat and still remain part of the Government. They should make their position clear.''

Meanwhile, the JD(U) spokesperson, Mohan Prakash, told The Hindu it was difficult for any party to defend the killings and violence in Gujarat and joined the demand for a judicial probe.

The meeting was attended by the Congress Deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha, Shivraj Patil, the NCP general secretary, Purno Sangma, the former Prime Minister, Deve Gowda, the RJD Parliamentary Party leader, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, Ajay Chakraborty (CPI), the RPI president, Ramdas Athawale, Ramjilal Suman (SP), Amar Roy Pradhan (AIFB), Jayanta Rongpi (CPI-ML), Simranjit Singh Mann (SAD-Amritsar) and Joachim Baxla (RSP).

The BJP, however, was strongly critical of the Opposition demand for Mr. Modi's removal. The party spokesperson, V.K. Malhotra, said time and again the Opposition had made similar demands.

``They had also demanded the resignation of the former Chief Minister, Keshubhai Patel, after the earthquake.''

The party view was that at this juncture such political demands should not be made. Instead everyone should work together to restore communal harmony.

The Gujarat events, starting from Godhra, had helped India's enemies, Mr. Malhotra said.

But he was not to admit any inadequacy on the part of the State Government in controlling the communal frenzy.

Nor was the party willing to accept that all first hand accounts of the riots have charged the Government with an anti-Muslim bias.

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