Central directive illegal, says CPI(M)

CHENNAI, JULY 20. For the Vajpayee Government to respond to any `pressure' from the Shiv Sena Ministers in the NDA Cabinet, and issue a Central directive to the Maharashtra Government under Article 355 of the Constitution over the Bal Thackeray issue will be ``totally illegal,'' the CPI(M) asserted today.

Expressing surprise at reports that Sena Ministers wanted the Centre to give a directive to the Maharashtra Government to ``desist from arresting'' Mr. Bal Thackeray in view of serious law and order implications, the CPI(M) politburo member, Mr. Prakash Karat today asked, ``where is the question of any Central role in this?''

Adverting to the go-ahead given by the Maharashtra Government to prosecute Mr. Thackeray for an article he wrote in the Sena mouthpiece, Saamna, Mr. Karat, speaking to The Hindu said the Centre had no basis to act in the matter as law and order was a State subject. As such it had to be dealt with at the ``State level.''

Mr. Karat, who was here to participate in the CPI(M)'s state committee meeting, said the reported demand by the Sena Ministers was ``no more than a political stance and had no relevance'' to the issue on hand.

Criticising the manner in which the Centre handled the fallout of the `autonomy resolution' passed by the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, Mr. Karat said the Centre should have discussed the issue in detail with Chief Minister, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, before the Cabinet rejected it.

He said the ``present action of the Centre talking to Farooq'' should have been done without rejecting the Assembly resolution. Both the Centre and Dr. Abdullah ``do not seem to be very serious about the issue.''

Coming down on the Election Commission for having sent a notice to the CPI(M) asking why it should not be de-registered, Mr. Karat said the party would be challenging the Kerala High Court judgment, on hartals and bandhs, in the Supreme Court within a fortnight.

Asserting that organising `hartals' was a fundamental right of any political party in a democratic set-up, Mr. Karat termed the EC's action ``arbitrary.''

He also disclosed that the CPI(M), which was ``updating'' its party programme, adopted in 1964, would finalise the document at a three-day special national conference being convened at Thiruvananthapuram from October 20.