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When Lalu became Prime Minister

Last updated on: August 20, 2010 21:08 IST

When Lalu became Prime Minister

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Renu Mittal in New Delhi
For one and a half hours on the floor of the Lok Sabha, four key parties spanning the full spectrum of political opinion from left to right to centrist joined forces and put together a national government with Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav as the prime minister of the country.

No, this is not a scenario being detailed in a fictionalised novel. It actually happened in the Lok Sabha on Friday when Lalu Prasad Yadav initiated the move to enact a mock Parliament after the House was adjourned due to the noisy scenes in the house over the proposed salary hike.

The mock parliament continued for one and a half hours with Laloo installing himself as the prime minister, deputy leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde was the speaker and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav was given charge as the co-chair and asked to ensure the smooth functioning of the House.

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Image: Lalu Prasad Yadav

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70 Oppn MPs ran the parallel government

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Over 70 MPs belonging to the Opposition ran a parallel government in what is being seen as an unprecedented move.

BJP leader Maneka Gandhi even gave a speech in the 'House' on the medical council bill, which had been passed by the government without any discussion. Amongst the parties participating in the mock Parliament were the BJP, the Left parties, the Samajwadi Party and the RJD.

Parliament security soon ensured that the press galleries were vacated so that the media could not continue to witness the spectacle that was being enacted, thought it was not easy to vacate the MPs from the House even after it had been adjourned, as it would have meant bringing in the marshals.

Lalu and company have threatened to continue their mock Parliament on Saturday morning, before the House officially meets, as they say that the government is now passing bills without discussion and this does not augur well for democracy.



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Lalu's attempt to regain political ground?

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The cabinet had in the morning cleared the MPs salary hike from a basic Rs 16000 to Rs 50,000 but Lalu, Mulayam and others were protesting vociferously demanding that it should be made Rs 80000 as recommended by the parliamentary committee, which had gone into all aspects of the case.

Lalu is now insisting that it should be Rs 80000 or nothing at all.

A senior Congress minister, upset at the manner in which Lalu enacted the mock Parliament, said that the government should have gone by the recommendation of the parliamentary panel as now Lalu would end up taking credit for pressurising the government to agree to the salary hike.

Government sources say they would not give in to Lalu's demand to further increase the salary hike even if he holds the house to ransom. But interestingly, a large section of the House is with him and even the bulk of the congress mps are supporting him.



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'Treat temple of democracy with reverence'

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Within the Congress also there are a large number of mps critical of Ambika Soni, Jairam Ramesh and Vayalar Ravi for having opposed the salary increase bill with one of the ministers calling them hypocrites for staying in official government bungalows worth crores of rupees and opposing a salary hike which was badly needed by MPs.

For Lalu, who is beginning to feel left out of crucial government issues, it would be galling that the government has taken BJP's support on the civil nuclear liability bill, making him almost redundant to the political process.

Keen to stay relevant, he has been at the forefront of the battle on the salary increase front and at least amongst the MPs he has become a rallying point, to the extent that he was anointed the leader of the house and the Prime Minister, even if it was a case of dumb charades.

A mockery of democracy, said a ruling party MP, with the sentiment being backed by a senior BJP leader from the Upper House.

Speaker Meira Kumar too disapproved of the mock Parliamentary proceedings.

"It is a temple of democracy that should be treated with utmost reverence," Kumar said.



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