Congress lawmakers boycott Chhattisgarh governor’s dinner

March 18th, 2008 - 4:58 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

Raipur, March 18 (IANS) Chhattisgarh’s opposition Congress legislators skipped a dinner party for the state’s lawmakers and senior bureaucrats hosted here by Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan Monday. The Congress did not make the reason for boycotting the governor’s dinner public.

But party sources said their MLAs were upset after Narasimhan failed to meet one of their delegations March 4. The delegates wanted to complain against a Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader who allegedly used intemperate language against Sonia Gandhi and others.

It was perhaps for the first time since the state came into existence in November 2000 that any political party has kept away from a function hosted by the governor at the Raj Bhawan.

The governor personally called up most of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as Congress lawmakers for dinner. Except for Congress veteran Vidya Charan Shukla, no other legislator from the Congress camp turned up.

Shukla was surprised when he did not find any of his party colleagues at the dinner meet. He informed the Congress state unit leader Tuesday that he had no idea of the party’s decision to boycott the dinner and his presence was “just because lack of information”.

Chief Minister Raman Singh, a majority of his cabinet colleagues, assembly Speaker Premprakash Pandey and a few senior bureaucrats were present at the dinner party.

Sources said Congress leaders felt humiliated on being cold-shouldered by the governor though they had an appointment. They wanted to seek Narasimhan’s intervention into alleged abusive language used by former BJP MP Ram Vilas Vedanti March 3.

Vedanti reportedly made the comments against Sonia Gandhi, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Rajim, about 45 km from here, while addressing a function at the Rajim Kumbh Mela, a religious event organised annually by the state cultural department on the banks of the Mahanadi river.

The Congress held the BJP government responsible for the incident as Vedanti made the comments as a guest of the state government. The party called for a successful state-wide shutdown March 8.

Congress leaders said they would maintain distance from Narasimhan - the former Intelligence Bureau chief who was appointed governor in January 2007 - till they received an explanation of why the delegates were turned back.

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