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George not keen on joining BJP Govt - The Observer

Suresh Nautiyal ()
March 5, 1998

Title: George not keen on joining BJP Govt
Author: Suresh Nautiyal
Publication: The Observer
Date: March 5, 1998

Samata Party president George Fernandes on Wednesday said he was
not keen to join the BJP-led 'coalition' Government at the
Centre. He, however, foretold a role for his party colleagues In
the new Government headed by Atal Behari Vajpayee and guided by a
mutually agreed common minimum programme - essential in the
circumstances to ran the Government.

"I believe that people like me should not join a Government.
There are a lot of things to be done. However, being an ally,
the Samata Party will participate in the Government as the CMP
was going to be a reality," he maintained.

In an exclusive interview with The Observer of Business and
Politics, Mr Fernandes made it clear that his party would not ask
for specific portfolios for his party colleagues in the new
Government as he considered the issues such as unemployment,
population, education, and poverty alleviation more important.

"Demand for specific portfolios should not be made a prime
concern. Moreover, the time has not come for that. When it comes,
it will be discussed at an appropriate level," he added.

He expressed that a stable coalition Government would be possible
on the basis of a common minimum programme only. He said the CMP
will not be based on the BJP manifesto. The policies and ideas of
all partners will be incorporated. Also, he believed that there
would be adequate pressure from people on this count as they too
want a durable and stable Government.

Asked what will be the basis for the possible CMP, Mr Fernandes
responded that the President's address to the joint session of
Parliament in June 1996, when the A B Vajpayee was the Prime
Minister, would be the right basis for the CMP as that address
contained the policies of the Government and had no contentious
issues, including the Article 370, Ayodhya, and the Uniform Civil

Mr Fernandes claimed that they needed only 10 more people to form
the Government as 11 winning candidates of various small parties
and independents had already assured their support to the BJP-led

Also, he suggested that the UF should support the BJP-led
Government from outside.

He also visualised an important role for the TDP and ruled out a
Uttar Pradesh like situation at the Centre.

Mr Fernandes also promised to get the Bihar Government out as
soon as they formed the Government. "The Bihar Government is
being controlled by a person (Laloo Prasad Yadav) who has looted
the Government treasury. Also. he is on bail and accused in
plenty of cases. I believe the Bihar Government has no
constitutional right to stay," he asserted.

Mr Fernandes, who has been highly critical of the corruption
charges on AIADMK chief Jayalalitha and one who has vowed to wage
a war against those who are corrupt, now hardly finds any
problems with Jayalalitha.

"We are committed to a programme, not to the parties or
individuals," he explained.

The shift is strange as he had vowed not to compromise on the
issue of corruption, including corruption charges on Laloo in
Bihar and Jayalalitha in Tamil Nadu. Mr Fernandes also explained
that his party was determined to attack corruption and would seek
action against those found corrupt, no matter who the person was
and how important office he or she held.

When told that Jaya visualised a larger role in the Central
politics in the wake of the AIADMK-BJP alliance sweeping the Lok
Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu, the Samata Party chief replied
that he welcomed her desire to play greater role at the Centre.
"I am sure she has a lot to contribute," he added. However, he
said that if she had done wrong, she would face the consequences.

He admitted that his party stood for amendment in the
Constitution to prevent naturalised Indians from occupying the
top posts of the President, the Vice-President and the Prime
Minister. "In fact, I had moved a Private Member's Bill in the
Lok Sabha on June 15, 1997 to this effect. This also forms a part
of our manifesto."

According to him, the party was still committed for the repeal of
the 10th Schedule of the Constitution, otherwise known as the
anti-defection law. The law provides for a wholesale defection.
"I will prefer a law which prevents the members of Parliament
leaving their parent parties for their own benefit," he
explained. However, according to him, the issues has yet to be
discussed with the BJP leaders. He also feels that the recent UP
example will not be repeated at the Centre.

Though Vajpayee had asked the foreign companies not to be wary,
Mr Fernandes does not see great differences with the BJP on the
question of allowing the MNCs in the country. "If favourable
conditions were made for the domestic players, the foreign
companies will themselves have to take decisions whether or not
to stay in India any more," Mr Fernandes declared.

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