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Cong. to seek resolution on Iraq

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI APRIL 6. Parliament opens tomorrow for the second leg of the budget session and although the debate on, and the passing of, the Finance Bill is the most urgent business, several important issues are expected to be raised by the Opposition, and some of these could lead to a storm.

Several Opposition parties have reiterated their intention to ask for a unanimous and strong resolution by Parliament condemning the United States-led invasion of Iraq.

The Congress will table an adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha tomorrow to press for a discussion on Iraq and also plead with the Government for a common resolution by Parliament, party spokesperson, S. Jaipal Reddy, said.

The CPI, the Lok Janshakti, the Samajwadi Party and others have indicated that they have not been taken in by the Bharatiya Janata Party's recent resolution on Iraq naming the U.S. and deploring its aggression. That was an example of the party's "forked tongue" tactics, a senior CPI leader said. The Opposition, especially the Congress, is not impressed by the Centre pointing accusing fingers at the Jammu and Kashmir Government in relation to the killing of 24 Kashmiri Pandits. The National Democratic Alliance Government might be asked to give details of its own unimpressive record of the last five years when its "ally", the National Conference, ruled the State. And does the Centre have any coherent Jammu and Kashmir policy, some Opposition leaders have asked.

Several other issues — the misuse of POTA, the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister, Ajit Jogi's charge that the Intelligence Bureau has been put up to perform some "dirty tricks" on the Opposition leaders, and the threatening statements from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader, Pravin Togadia — — could be raised during the session.

Dr. Togadia had admitted that the VHP was behind the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, and despite the Supreme Court verdict disallowing any change in the status of the Central Government acquired land in Ayodhya, he has threatened to "take" the entire 67 acres through a mass agitation. A senior Congress leader has already asked the Centre to explain whether Dr. Togadia is "above the law". In short, the Government may have to explain why no action was being taken against him. The DMK is upset with the Centre for being unable to do anything to get the MDMK leader, Vaiko, charged under POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act), released from jail. It could ask the Centre to repeal POTA, amend it, or ensure that it is not misused.

Besides the Finance bill, the Government has promised legislation on women's reservation and a ban on cow slaughter throughout the country.

Both these would require constitutional amendments and it remains to be seen how a consensus is worked out. The session could also see yet another attempt to resurrect the amendment of the Representation of the People Act, recently quashed by the Supreme Court.

For this there will have to be another all-party meeting to arrive at a consensus, but the Congress has already signalled that it is unwilling.

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