NEW DELHI, India, March 16, (Reuter): Indian opposition leaders are likely to press for a full debate on the rift between Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and President Zail Singh when the two Houses of Parliament resume tomorrow and Wednesday.
But the massive majority that Gandhi’s Congress (I) Party commands in both Houses means a no confidence motion may not be put, political sources said.
Gandhi spent today in the far southern tip of India campaigning for his party in next Monday’s Assembly elections in the State of Kerala, while the opposition leaders planned their strategy in Delhi.
The President’s chilly relations with Gandhi became public pro party last Friday when the mass circulation Indian Express published the leaked text of a letter from Singh to the Prime Minister.
Janata Party President Chandra Sekhar said the letter had exposed Gandhi’s real character. “Parliament should ‘debate the issue and keep the nation informed”, he said in a statement.
Karnataka Chief Minister Ramakrishna Hegde, also of the Janata (People’s)| Party, who has often been tipped as a future Prime Minister, noted that former West German Chancellor Willy Brandt had resigned in 1974 after giving wrong information to the Bonn Parliament.
“If Mr. Rajiv Gandhi has the same values he also should resign” said Hegde, addressing a meeting in his South Indian State yesterday.
At the least, Gandhi should offer an unqualified apology to the President and both Houses of Parliament for misleading them, he added.
Bharatiya Janata Party President L.K. Advani added his voice, calling the letter a strong indictment of the government. Only the leftwing parties have not so far come out strongly on the issue.
Former President Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, who was Singh’s predecessor from 1977 to 1982, described the row as “a matter of very serious concern” because of its effects on the prestige of the nation’s two top posts.
Article extracted from this publication >> March 20, 1987