BJP protests omission of Advani and Jaswant from NIC

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New Delhi, Oct 13 (UNI) The BJP today took strong exception to the omission of Leaders of the Opposition, L K Advani and Jaswant Singh, from the list of invitees to the crucial National Integration Council meeting, even as Mr Advani chose to attend his 'Vijay Sankalp Yatra' in Kerala.

The Government has ''deliberately chosen to ignore'' both the Leaders of the Opposition, the BJP alleged. While L K Advani had been invited in the category of 140-odd 'distinguished invitees', Jaswant Singh had been totally be left out, senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, who attended the NIC meet on behalf of Mr Advani said.

''We have protested the omissions. It is utterly irresponsible on the part of the Home Ministry to commit such a big faux paus,'' Ms Swaraj remarked.

She said even information about the NIC came as late as October 10 and since Mr Advani had already made commitment to his Kerala engagement, he has gone there deputing her to attend the NIC. ''The Government had not even finalised the agenda for such an important meeting,'' she said.

The senior BJP leader said according to the protocol, priority of the Leader of the Opposition came after the Prime Minister. They were not invididuals, but institutions and the government of the day had to respect the democratic norms. If the mandate for the Prime Minister was that of governance of the country, the mandate for the Leader of the Opposition was that of a 'watchdog'.

''If the Government wants to totally ignore the norms and conventions, one could only pity them,'' she remarked.

She said the Government did not even show the courtesy of making obituary references to the three NIC members -- former PM Chandra Shekhar, Harkishan Singh Surjeet and Nirmala Deshpande. An obituary reference was made only after the Gujarat Chief Minister proposed it, she said.

Answering questions about the demand for a ban on the VHP and Bajrang Dal, Ms Swaraj said BJP President Rajnath Singh, who attended the meeting had rejected it straight away. They were ''nationalist organisations'' and said that it was not proper to equate them with a banned secessionist and terrorist organisation like the SIMI, she said.

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