Opposition slams Mayawati on Bareilly riots

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Lok Sabha was adjourned on Monday morning as the entire Opposition and some Congress members took on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati for her alleged mishandling of the communal riots in Bareilly.

The town has been under curfew for the past 14 days after clashes broke out during a religious procession.

Raising the matter during zero hour, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh urged the Centre to intervene and set right the deteriorating law and order situation in the State. While Bareilly people were facing difficulties owing to the curfew, Ms. Mayawati and her entire administration was busy preparing for a rally in Lucknow to mark the 25th anniversary of the Bahujan Samaj Party. The government, he alleged, spent Rs. 200 crore on the rally, and thousands of people were transported from Bareilly too.

At this point, Maneka Gandhi, under whose Lok Sabha constituency part of Bareilly falls, sought the Speaker's permission to speak, as she was stopped by the State government from visiting Bareilly. When the Speaker refused her permission on the grounds that she had not given any notice, members of the National Democratic Alliance protested, forcing adjournment of the proceedings at 12.30 p.m.

When allowed to speak in the post-lunch session, Ms. Gandhi sought a judicial inquiry into the episode by a Supreme Court judge and urged the Centre to be more proactive on the issue. She said Bareilly did not have any history of communal clashes; the State government fanned the clashes by allowing a peace march on Holi day, which led to the riots.

The BSP members were conspicuous by their absence, as all of them were away in Lucknow to attend the rally.

Janata Dal (United) chief Sharad Yadav criticised the State government for preventing political leaders from visiting the town.

Jagdambika Pal of the Congress also urged the Centre to intervene and bring the situation under control. Otherwise, the riots would spread to other parts of the State, he said.