Cabinet divided on Orissa, Bajrang Dal
- NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday night refrained from taking any extreme step against the Orissa government after the DMK, PMK and the NCP reiterated their opposition to the use of Article 356. The Bajrang Dal also earned a reprieve with a section of the Cabinet expressing their reservations over taking any action without adequate home work.
Mr Lalu Yadav and Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, who pushed hard for the immediate dismissal of the Naveen Patnaik government in Orissa found support from Union HRD minister Arjun Singh, Urban development minister Jaipal Reddy and minority affairs minister A R Antulay. But DMK, PMK and NCP nominees in the Cabinet reiterated their stand against invoking Article 356.
At the meeting, home minister Shivraj Patil presented a report sent by the state government on the situation. In the report, the BJD-BJP government is understood to have said that it had done everything possible to check violence.
Although the Congress had earlier in the day joined the chorus demanding ban on Bajrang Dal, majority of the Cabinet was against any hasty decision on the matter.
An organisation can be banned only on the basis of reports from state governments citing its involvement in unlawful activities. The experience regarding Simi in a special tribunal had exposed the perils of taking the step without adequate homework. Law minister HR Bharadwaj recalled this incident to drive home his point.
NCP�s Praful Patel was also of the same view. Commerce minister Kamal Nath said the political fallout of banning the outfit should be factored in.
On his part, Mr Patil said the home ministry was assessing the �feasibility and practicality� of banning Bajrang Dal. He promised to return to the Cabinet with a full account of the organisation�s activities.
The decision to ban Bajrang Dal is quite tricky for the UPA government as it has not even spoken about banning the Indian Mujahideen, which has claimed responsibility for recent terror attacks. With parties on the ruling side joining the attack against terror investigations, the government will have to be more circumspect in its approach.
At the last Cabinet meeting on October 3, the prime minister had sought a report from the home minister about the situation in Orissa as also Karnataka, where similar incidents were witnessed. Afterwards, Mr Patil wrote a strongly-worded letter to Orissa chief minister and spoke to Governor M C Bhandare.
Earlier in the day, the Centre issued an advisory to the Assam government for containing ethnic violence. However, the advisory was not sent under Article 355, a rarely used constitutional provision that enables the Centre to issue a direction under which the state should be ruled in accordance with the Constitution.
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