UPA wants Somnath Chatterjee to stay on

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{image-somnatha speaker_24072008.jpg www.oneindia.com}New Delhi, Jul 24: A day after the Communist Party of India (Marxist) expelled Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee from the party, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on Thursday, July 24, assured him of the support of the United Progressive Alliance.

Dr Singh drove to Chatterjee's residence this morning to convey this message to him. The meeting lasted around 10 minutes. Singh appreciated the manner in which the Speaker conducted the House. In their reaction to his expulsion, the ruling UPA leaders hailed the caliber of Chatterjee as presiding officer of the Lok Sabha, and described his decision as unprecedented in Parliamentary democracy.

Jayanti Natarajan, a Congress spokesperson said that Chatterjee's expulsion would have no bearing on his continuation as Speaker.

"Chatterjee does not belong to any party, as he lost his affiliation with his party after being elected Speaker," Natarajan added.

Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and Lok Jan Shakti party chief while speaking to reporters said that the Speaker has the backing of the entire house.

"Chatterjee's expulsion by his party does not change his position as Speaker", Paswan said adding that, "He will continue to receive our support".

The Speaker had been under pressure to quit the Constitutional post after the Left withdrew support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government over the Indo-US civil nuclear deal.

However, Chatterjee, refused to toe the party line and chaired the House during the special session on July 21 and July 22, when the Government won the confidence vote.

Chatterjee was expelled by the CPM yesterday, on charges of seriously compromising the party's position following its decision to withdraw support to the government on the July 8.

ANI

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