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A political farce, says Congress

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI SEPT. 30. The Opposition today criticised the resignation episode of the Human Resource Development Minister, Murli Manohar Joshi.

The Congress dubbed it an "elaborately-staged political farce" while the Communist Party of India described it as a "hypocritical move".

The Congress said the act only reminded people of the various "resignation stunts" such as those of George Fernandes, Nitish Kumar, Mamta Banerjee, and Harin Pathak "which has become the hallmarks of the NDA Government".

The "so-called temporary relief", which was supposed to have been obtained today by Dr. Joshi from the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court, was rendered possible by the "deliberate failure" of the Central Bureau of Investigation to file a caveat in the Lucknow Bench.

"The misuse of the CBI by the NDA Government and the connivance of CBI have once again been demonstrated," the party spokesperson, S. Jaipal Reddy, said and sought to know from the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, as to when he would stop "the misutilisation" of the CBI by his "guilty ministers to escape the legal consequences of their sinister deeds on December 6, 1992".

However, the resignation drama raises important questions, he said. If the framing of charges against the Ministers was regarded as a disqualification by the NDA Government, how were L.K. Advani, Dr. Joshi, Uma Bharti taken into the Cabinet in 1998 itself, he asked.

And while replying to a debate in Parliament, Mr. Vajpayee had declared that no Minister would be dropped even if charges were framed against the Ministers in the Ayodhya case.

"In this background, the current display of sensitivity towards the process of framing of charges is not only hypocritical but ridiculous.

Apart from the inconsistency of this sanctimonious posturing, it is important for the Prime Minister to clarify whether the possible vacation of the stay order on Dr. Joshi's petition on November 4, will automatically lead to the exit of Dr. Joshi from the Cabinet", Mr. Reddy said.

The CPI national secretary, D. Raja, said the CBI should contest both the discharge of Mr. Advani and the relief obtained by Dr. Joshi in the Babri Masjid demolition case.

He alleged that both Mr. Advani and Dr. Joshi were responsible in collecting mob at Ayodhya on the day, generated communal frenzy and were present at the site when the place of worship was brought down by the crowd.

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