The Delhi High Court yesterday lend its helping hand to the crisis-ridden Janata Dal by requesting two senior Dal leaders - S Jaipal Reddy and Madhu Dandavate - to meet the judge in his chamber regarding the dispute over the June 10 party presidential poll.
The courts request to Union information and broadcasting minister Jaipal Reddy and Planning Commission deputy chairman Madhu Dandavate came after a six-hour hearing in the matter and various suggestions put forth by Justice S N Kapoor, who is hearing the case, did not find favour with the lawyers of the two parties - Laloo Prasad and Dals returning officer P K Samantray.
In the hearing, the Election Commission chipped in to tell the court that it would be willing to extend the June 15 deadline for completion of organisational elections in political parties the court so desired.
If the court takes a decision today, it would be just a day before Laloo Prasad has called a meeting of the national executive of the Janata Dal here, which has itself been challenged by supporters of Sharad Yadav as illegal.
The hearing was on the petition filed by Samantray seeking a permanent stay on Laloo Prasad from interfering in the organisational poll in his capacity as the party president.
The court had in its May 31 interim order restrained Prasad from interfering in the process of party poll.
At one point of time when Samantrays counsel suggested the name of former Prime Minister H D Devegowda to act as an intermediary to find a solution, Laloo Prasads counsel opposed the idea.
Counsel for the Bihar Chief Minister, Rakesh Dwiwedi, said he (Devegowda) is the main sponsor of the litigation filed by Samantray. To this, the judge replied Could I request Mr Reddy and Mr Dandavate to come to my chamber for 10 minutes to discuss the issue. Both sides agreed.
Earlier in the morning, the courts request to Dandavate and senior Dal leader Surendra Mohan as to whether they were ready to take over as returning officers for the poll, was partially turned down by them.
They informed the court that they would only supervise the work of the returning officers.
Both, however, made it clear that the returning officers should not be changed, and expressed willingness to supervise the poll process only if the contesting candidates, Laloo Prasad and Sharad Yadav, agreed to the proposal.
This was not acceptable to Laloo Prasads counsel, who stuck to his stand that both the present returning officers and his deputy B K Prasad, should be removed from their posts for committing serious illegalities in finalising the list of voters.
He argued that the said returning officers had no locus standi to object to the decision of the party president to hold the poll at Patna.
Samantrays counsel, P N Lekhi, told the court that the national executive had delegated the powers to working president Sharad Yadav to take decision regarding the conduct of the organisational poll.
It was Yadav who appointed the returning officers, hence, no fault could be found with their functioning vis-a-vis the poll, Lekhi said.
This was contested by Laloo Prasad counsel who said Sharad Yadav was delegated powers on the poll process and by further delegation of powers to returning officers, he (Sharad) had abdicated his duty and contended that a power cannot be delegated twice.
Gowda, Paswan join efforts to avert split
Bharati Sinha NEW DELHI
Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda and Railway Minister Ram Vilas Paswan have joined efforts to avert a split in the Janata Dal by making Bihar Chief Minister Laloo Prasad and Sharad Yadav agree to withdraw in favour of a consensus choice for the Dal presidentship, a senior Dal leader actively involved in negotiations said yesterday.
The senior leader, who did not wish to be identified, refused to indicate who the third choice might be, except that it would not be human resource minister S R Bommai.
Deve Gowda and his supporters and even Sharad Yadav had serious objections to Bommai being the consensus choice leading to a breakdown of talks earlier this week.
The change in stance by Gowda and his supporters comes in the wake of reports that Prime Minsiter I K Gujral and several other senior leaders had decided to attend the meeting of the partys National Executive in Delhi on Sunday, called by Laloo Prasad. Sharad Yadav and his supporters have called the meeting as illegal and made it clear that they would keep out of it.
It is not clear as to what made Gowda and Paswan change their stance and join the peace move. Both Gowda, Paswan and their supporters are seen to be fully backing Sharad Yadav for the presidential elections slated for June 10.
Meanwhile, Laloo Prasad yesterday dismissed four of his ministers Ramai Ram, Managni Lal Mandal, Brijendra Yadav and Ramjeevan Singh for participating in a meeting called by Sharad Yadav in Patna yesterday.
Interestingly, while Paswans name is being taken among those who are working for a patch up, his brother was yesterday let off by Laloo Prasad even though he attended the meeting.
The younger brother of Ramvilas Paswan was also among those who attended Yadavs meeting.